India is at a cusp of a revolution

India is at a cusp of a revolution
India is at a cusp of a revolution

Dr B.R. Shetty is the Founder and Non-Executive Chairman of the Abu Dhabi based NMC Healthcare and Chairman of UAE Exchange, which most recently hit the headlines for its acquisition of forex major Travelex. The Karnataka-born and UAE-based entrepreneur opens up to 'India Global Business' on his journey, his inspirations and future plans. What makes the UAE a good base for your enterprises In the last four decades, I have learnt so much about different cultures, made many Emirati friends and have realised that there is no place like the UAE to conduct business in. I have got so many perspectives on life, learnt so much about world cultures that it has rounded me as a human being and a successful businessman. In the early Seventies, I came searching for a job and today, under the patronage of the royal family, I have 50,000 employees and a multi-billion-dollar empire spanning the globe. With an open economy that has one of the world's highest per capita income, with a sizeable annual trade surplus, the UAE has undergone an unprecedented transformation into a modern state with a high standard of living. Some of the remarkable reasons for doing business in the UAE are: corporate tax and personal taxes are almost nil, import duties in the UAE are very low, there are Double Taxation Agreements, Free Trade Agreements and then there is a strong and competitive economy with a world-class infrastructure. Foreign investors looking to set up a business in any of the industrial cities, special economic zones or free trade zones as established in different emirates have easy access to a single window licensing service promising quick turnaround in terms of registration and visa processing. As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1996, the UAE supports open trade and has stable trade relations with countries throughout the world. How far has NMC Healthcare come since its launch New Medical Centre (NMC) was started in 1975 as a pioneer in the private healthcare sector in the UAE, soon after the creation of the UAE as a nation. While working as a pharmacist in the UAE, I spotted the opportunity to pioneer private healthcare in the country. Over the last four decades, NMC healthcare operations today span 10 countries, treat over 5 million patients annually and include hospitals, pharma and medical equipment distribution, retail pharmacies and pharmaceutical distribution. The flagship, NMC Health plc, was the first healthcare company from the GCC to list on LSE and is a part of the FTSE 100 Index with a market capitalisation in excess of $7.5 billion. The Superbrands Council has rated NMC consecutively for the third year in 2017 as a Superbrand. What are some of UAE Exchange′s growth plans UAE Exchange is exploring opportunities to enter the KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] market. Alongside network expansion and new market entry options are being explored in African markets, on-ground and in the digital space through both organic and inorganic paths. The acquisition of Travelex by the Group was followed byRemit2India, the online money transfer platform, which significantly expanded group's digital business across the US, Europe and APAC. Today, the various brands in the group - UAE Exchange, Travelex, XpressMoney, Remit2India, Ditto Bank - have a direct presence across 45 countries and indirectly in 165 countries through an agency network. The group also acquired a series of businesses in South Africa, Singapore and Brazil. UAE Exchange investments hinge on a truly differentiated USP, technology & IP assets of the firm in question, and commercial synergies. Souqalmal.com, the comparison website for financial products in the UAE, checked all these boxes. This association propels UAE Exchange's digital journey and provides a window into KSA. UAE Exchange earmarked significant outlays towards investments broadly in the digital domain with a focus on start-ups. That being said, their investments are focused both on segments they address and synergies they seek with their existing lines of business. Another influencing factor is the ability to acquire the right technology assets. They have defined an investment of $250 million towards inorganic growth pursuits, furthering digital initiatives. Currently the key technology areas of interest include Blockchain, Robotic Process Automation and Emerging Payment Solutions. An example would be investing in Loyyal, a blockchain based loyalty solution. UAE Exchange is a supporter of innovators and start-up innovation. The UAE has emerged as a hub for startup innovation in the MENA region and UAE Exchange pursues initiatives supporting the start-up community. How has the Travelex acquisition panned out for your company The acquisition of Travelex in 2015 widened the Group's direct presence from 31 countries to45. This brought the two category leaders - UAE Exchange for money transfer and Travelex for foreign exchange - under the same umbrella. Certain segments of both the businesses have been integrated, achieving economies of scale and seamless functioning. Today the Group has a 6.75 per cent market share of global money transfers and 7.1 per cent in global retail foreign exchange volumes. The acquisition won the Group the “Deals of the Year Award” from 'The Banker' magazine in the mergers and acquisitions category. What are the expansion plans for Travelex globally; any India plans Travelex is currently present in around 29 countries with over 1,500 outlets and ATMs, covering all major international airports in the world. Opportunities are being explored to widen this network, spreading deeper into all major commercial hubs across Europe, the Americas and APAC, including India. The group has a formidable presence in India including in Tier 5 and 6 cities, major commercial hubs, airports and other public places. Efforts are on to further widen the spread of Travelex, reaching out to more customers in the peninsula. How far has your Indian ethos influenced your success in the country The Indian values of education, hardwork, taking parents as next to Almighty and treating teachers as parents, giving respect to everyone and inculcating the same values in children came really handy in living life with fulfilling and satisfactory outcomes. My education by my mother was: “Go anywhere and do anything, but only ensure that your actions are positively impacting the lives of at least people around you.” On a similar note my guidance to my doctors is to “only look at the pulse of the patient not at the purse”. I have a deep belief in the Lord and karma. And hence my focus is in creating quality of life for people around me and the society at large. Does being a Global Indian influence your philanthropic work Yes, I feel privileged when the communities and governments across the world reach out to us for social and philanthropic work. Whether it is a pure CSR work owing to some natural calamity or it is a construction of a hospital as needed by the native community, we get such requests very regularly. How do you stay in touch with the country/region of your birth I have my roots in India and hence the extended family is in India. I work closely with the state governments of almost every state of India on creating a sustainable social, economic and healthcare infrastructure. India, under the great leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is at the cusp of a revolution and stands the highest chance of becoming a global superpower in the near future.

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