U.S. dollar banknotes (Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

Centrum Group Sells Forex Business To Ebix For Rs 1,200 Crore

Diversified financial services player Centrum Group has decided to exit its forex business under the brand name Centrum Direct by selling it to Atlanta-based Ebix Inc. for around Rs 1,200 crore.

Nasdaq-listed Ebix has over 50 offices across five continents and offers on-demand software and e-commerce services to insurance, financial and healthcare industries.

As part of the deal, the entire Centrum Direct team and assets will be transferred to Ebix and will become part of EbixCash, an end-to-end financial exchange, the Jaspal Bindra-led company said in a statement today. The deal, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals, is expected to be closed in 60 days.

In 2017, Centrum had divested 18.5 percent of its stake in Centrum Direct to a group of private equity investors including Jacob Ballas, New York Life and Evolvence.

Centrum Direct, which handled transactions worth Rs 10,000 crore in financial year 2018, has a customer base of over 3 million and offers services like sale and purchase of forex, overseas remittances, travel cards and travelers cheques.

It operates 165 outlets in 55 cities and is the largest airport forex player with presence in 24 domestic airports.

Commenting on the sale, group chairman Jaspal Bindra said though the money exchange business has seen sustained growth, consolidation and margin pressures are expected to be major disruptors as an increasing number of customers opt for digital transactions.

“The proceeds from the sale will provide a significant resource base to strengthen our core businesses of wealth management, institutional and retail broking, investment banking, insurance and lending verticals along with identifying strategic opportunities for growth,” said Bindra.

Robin Raina, chairman of Ebix, said, “The acquisition provides us with new abilities in niche financial exchange sectors while expanding our footprint in India. We have been eager to take up a strong position in India’s airports and shipping ports.”