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Aramex May Tap Debt Market as It Seeks to Fund Acquisitions

Aramex PJSC, which competes in the Middle East with Deutsche Post’s DHL and United Parcel Service Inc., may tap the debt market for the first time since 2005 as it seeks financing for acquisitions.

“With our acquisitions last year our cash went down, but being a company that has very little debt our debt capacity is quite substantial,” Chief Executive Officer Fadi Ghandour said in a phone interview yesterday. “If we do an acquisition over a certain size we will have to tap the debt market. It will be something between $50 million and $100 million.”

Aramex, the largest courier company in the Middle East, has been expanding into Asia, Africa and Europe through acquisitions and partnerships. The company said March 14 it signed a partnership agreement with CJ GLS Corp. of South Korea. That followed a joint venture with SinoAir in China, and acquisition of OneWorld Courier and In-Time Couriers in Kenya, and Berco Express in South Africa.

Aramex is seeking more acquisitions this year with potential targets in countries including Turkey, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Thailand, Ghandour said. The company will generate about 50 percent of its revenue from the Arab world this year compared with 65 percent a year earlier, he said.

The courier company, which sold shares in an initial public offering in 2005, posted a 4 percent increase in profit last year as the popular uprising in the Middle East and the global credit crisis weighed on earnings. Aramex had borrowings and overdrafts of 41 million dirhams ($11 million) at the end of 2011, according to its financial statement. Aramex debt was 2.2 percent of equity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

First-quarter earnings will be “significantly better,” helped by businesses in Gulf Arab nations and South Africa, Ghandour said. Recovery in Egypt after last year’s uprising and the return of Libyan operations will contribute, he said.

Aramex shares have gained 3.3 percent this year after dropping 13 percent in 2011. Nine analysts recommend investors buy the shares, while one has a hold rating, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The shares closed 1.1 percent down in Dubai trading today.

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