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Equals Group brings in finance heavy hitter ahead of expansion moves

Snapshot

  • Equals is a payment and FX specialist focused on SMEs
  • Interim revenues rise by 21%
  • New finance director appointed to help with expansion plans
  • Changed name from FairFx in June 2019
Cash and cards

Quick facts: Equals Group Plc

Price: 78 GBX

AIM:EQLS
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £139.27 m
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Our strategic focus on rationalising supply chain through direct connectivity to payment schemes and other measures are proving successful.

Ian Strafford- Taylor, chief executive

 

What Equals Group does:

Equal Group PLC (LON:EQLS)  is a low-cost payment services provider based in the UK. with products including international payments, corporate expenses, current accounts, credit facilities, currency cards and travel cash.

The company has a cloud-based peer-to-peer payments platform that allows personal and business customers to make payments in different currencies and across a range of foreign exchange products through one system.

The platform facilitates payments in a number of countries via mobile apps, the internet, SMS, wire transfer and debit cards.

 

What it owns:

Since 2017, the group has almost tripled in size in terms of turnover and its operations have broadened into three significant businesses - FairFX, CardOneMoney and City Forex.

On 21 June 2019, the company also revealed that it had received permission from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to provide credit facilities and loan products to its business and retail customers.

The firm said that as it was acting as a broker, the loans would be provided by FCA-authorised third party lenders and there will be no credit risk to the group and the loans would not appear on its balance sheet.

The group bought digital banking products firm, Q-Money, and its e-money licence in 2017. FairFX called that acquisition “an important milestone” in the evolution of the group, with the licence underpinning its digital banking products as well as its direct membership of Mastercard to issue its own bank cards.

The firm acquired international payments and risk management firm City Forex in 2018. Before it was taken over, City Forex had undertaken travel currency operations for FairFX since 2007.

In August, Equals bought FX group Hermes for £2mln.

In November, the company announced that it had purchased UK-based payments firm Casco for an initial sum of £1.72mln which will add 1,000 corporate customers to its roster.

 

How is it doing

Half-year revenues at the small business-focused payment services provider rose by 22% to £14.6mln, with underlying profits 15% higher at £3.3mln.

The payments group also unveiled Richard Cooper as finance director.

" This is a newly-created executive board position and reflects both the expansion of the group and the ambitious plans for the future," said Equals.

Cooper was CFO of gaming giant GVC from 2008 to 2017 and a key part of its acquisitions programme.

Ian Strafford-Taylor, chief executive, said Equals would benefit from Cooper's extensive experience in growing public companies 'at a time where we seek to expand through a combination of acquisitions and organic growth'.

 

Inflexion points:

  • Group turnover jumped 18% to £1.26bn in the first half of 2019
  • New FD was key in growing GVC into a FTSE250 business
  • A five-year deal with Mastercard was signed in September
  • Online credit facility in live beta testing

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