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MENAFN - Times of Oman - 25/02/2010

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(MENAFN - Times of Oman) Utility billing and debt collection firm Oman Investment & Finance Co SAOG (OIFC) may consider taking its business model to other countries in the GCC region while it hopes to complete the acquisition of a money exchange firm in the next few months as part of its overall diversification strategy, a top official said.

The company has been providing billing and debt collection services for various power, water as well as telecom utilities such as Omantel. It also distributes the pre-paid calling cards for the latter.

"We have the know-how of 30 years and have the trust of our clients," chief executive officer, Shabir M Al Yousef said during a conference with its investors at the Muscat Securities Market (MSM).

On the issue of acquisition of a money exchange, he said a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed and the deal would be complete in the next few months.There are more than a dozen money exchange firms in the Sultanate with multiple branches but even then there were lot of potential for a new entrant, he said. "We have the experience of handling good cash-flow from our core business and people have trusted us with their money," he said adding that the same trust would act in favour of its proposed business.

Spreading risk

The company has been contemplating to diversify into other areas to spread out its risks, he said. "Most of the business that we are in, do not belong to us, they belong to our clients," he said referring to its core business of billing and debt collection on behalf of various utility services providers.It plans to get into business where it would have direct investments and may take the inorganic or the acquisition route to achieve an instant scale, he said. "Our core business will continue to be billing and debt collection as that is our bread and butter but we want to be less dependent on that," Al Yousef said.

As part of the same diversification strategy, it entered into real estate by buying 20 villas for RO2.176 million in Seeb and the value of the same was at "comfortable levels" now, he said.


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