India-Born Tycoon Buys Travelex For Rs 9,800 Crore
By ENS Economic Bureau | Published: 25th May 2014 06:00 AM |
BANGALORE: The rags-to-riches story of Abu-Dhabi based, Indian-born billionaire Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty just gets better with each passing year. In the latest, the 72-year-old Shetty is reported to have acquired foreign exchange major Travelex in a Rs 9,800-crore deal.
Shetty, who already owns the region’s biggest foreign exchange, UAE Exchange, is reported to have acquired the travel exchange major from private equity firm Apax Partners. Travelex is the world’s largest foreign exchange player and trades in over 80 currencies in 50-plus countries.
Shetty’s rags-to-riches story has made headlines all over the world. As per legend, he went to the Gulf in 1973 with $8 in his pocket; today, he is valued at over $1 billion. As a trained pharmacist, he opened his first pharmacy in 1975. In 1975 he established the New Medical Centre (NMC), which also included a dedicated dental department.
His business interests vary from pharma, hospitality, food & beverage, money exchange, financial services and philanthropy. Shetty is also the Chief Executive Officer of the largest private sector health care company in the UAE, NMC Health. News reports quote Shetty as saying, “With an attractive growth strategy and an experienced management team, Travelex has demonstrated its ability to execute on strategy, to innovate and to deliver strong financial results.” Although the majority control and stake will be held by Shetty, the founder of Travelex, Lloyd Dorfman, will reportedly continue to remain a shareholder in the company.
Shetty, who shared a room with five workers at the beginning of his UAE journey, shot to fame when he bought the 100th and 140th floors of Burj Khalifa. The two floors were said to have cost Rs 114 crore in 2010. But Shetty says he is not a ‘real estate man’.
Shetty has consistently shown interest and efforts in his home country as well as his ‘adopted country’. He reportedly acquired a 220-bed hospital in Trivandrum to double its capacity and also acquired a majority stake in Central Raipur.
In an interview to an international magazine, he said his aim was to build a 12,000-bed hospital in five years’ time. He also wants to expand the 330 branches of UAE Exchange to 850 and is also exploring options to start a bank in India.
For his success and philanthropy, Shetty was conferred the Order of Abu Dhabi in 2005, the country’s highest civilian award. Even the Indian government has conferred the Padma Shree on him.