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Takeover offer for struggling Travelex-owner Finablr

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
File photo dated 08/12/08 of a Travelex sign at Heathrow Airport. At least 14 institutions, including some of Britain's biggest high street banks, have been hit by a major outage, stopping them from offering euros, dollars and other foreign cash to customers across the UK.
A Travelex sign at Heathrow Airport. Photo: PA

A consortium of investors with connections to Israel have tabled a takeover offer for the company behind Travelex.

Finablr (FIN.L), the owner of Travelex and other money changing businesses such as UAE Exchange, said on Tuesday it had received a takeover approach from Prism Advanced Solutions.

The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed but both sides are understood to now be entering formal talks to thrash out details of a potential deal.

READ MORE: Thousands of jobs at risk as Travelex-owner on brink of collapse

“After months of hard work under very trying liquidity conditions compounded by the impact of the coronavirus on our operations, I am excited to now go forward with Prism,” said Bhairav Trivedi, Finablr’s chief executive.

Prism Advanced Solutions’ offer is the first takeover approach since Finablr shares were suspended in London in March. Finablr’s chief executive left the business at the time and the company warned of “material” uncertainty about its future. Shares had fallen 95% before their suspension.

Finablr was caught up in an accounting scandal that brought down former FTSE 100 hospital business NMC Health. NMC and Finablr were both founded by Indian-born Middle Eastern billionaire businessman BR Shetty. NMC collapsed after hidden debt was uncovered on its balance sheet. In May, Finablr said it too had uncovered $1bn (£771.4m) of hidden debt on its balance sheet.

LUCKNOW, INDIA - JULY 29: BR Shetty CEO NMC Healthcare, UAE addressing ground-breaking ceremony for 81 project by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Indira Gandhi Pratishthan on July 29, 2018 in Lucknow, India. These projects were part of the 1,045 MoUs signed at the Uttar Pradesh Investors' Summit organised earlier this year. (Photo by Subhankar Chakraborty/Hindustan Times/Sipa USA)
BR Shetty ran both NMC Health and Finablr. Photo: Subhankar Chakraborty/Hindustan Times/Sipa USA

Trivedi said staff had worked “at reduced or zero pay for some months and this deal is only possible thanks to their hard work and sacrifice.”

“We now enter a new chapter in the company's history,” he said. “We thank all our clients, regulators, creditors, advisors, and vendors who stood by us during these trying times.”

READ MORE: Travelex-owner Finablr halves in value after coronavirus liquidity warning

Few details were given about Prism Advanced Solutions, other than it is fronted by Guy Rothschild. Rothschild is a Swiss-based financier who formerly served as chief finance officer at Maclaren, a company making children’s buggies. He is still a director at the firm.

“We acknowledge that it's going to be a challenging journey and that there would be difficulties along the way, but we are confident that with the support from all parties involved we will realize Finablr's full potential,” Rothschild said in a statement.

“Finablr offers a huge opportunity in the digital payments space across multiple emerging markets and its assets and proprietary technology positions it for further global growth.”

READ MORE: Banks disrupted as Travelex hit by virus

Companies House filings show Prism Advanced Solutions was incorporated last November. As well as Rothschild, the business’ two other directors are listed as Amir Nagammy and Tareq Jaafar Al Wazzan.

A spokesperson for Finablr declined to comment on who was behind Prism.

Rothschild said the deal represented “the first major UAE-Israeli commercial transaction,” without elaborating on the Israeli connection.

UAE and Israel reached a historic peace deal in mid-September that established diplomatic relations between the two countries for the first time in history.

“We are very thankful to the UAE leadership and authorities who have been incredibly supportive of us,” Rothschild said. “We look forward to working closely with them in the revival of the Company.”

HE Abubaker Al Khoori, chief executive of UAE’s Royal Strategic Partners, said: “We welcome our new international investors and are excited about the opportunity to re-build a strong global remittance and digital payment platform headquartered in Abu Dhabi.”

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