The Daily News Egypt - - Business - By Mo­hamed Alaa El-Din

Raya Hold­ing for Fi­nan­cial In­vest­ments plans to ex­pand its call cen­tre ac­tiv­ity in the Saudi Ara­bian and UAE mar­kets over the up­com­ing pe­riod. The com­pany has re­cently in­creased its in­vest­ments in a data cen­tre com­pany by dou­bling the area of its data cen­tres.

Ac­cord­ing to Med­hat Khalil, the com­pany’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and chair­per­son, in an in­ter­view with Daily News Egypt, Raya Hold­ing aims to re­cruit 1,000 per­sons by the end of this year.

What are your plans for the up­com­ing pe­riod?

We have a tar­get to be an ef­fec­tive and a strong player in the Egyp­tian econ­omy. Cur­rently, we have over 13,000 work­ers, and we aim to take this num­ber up to 20,000.

You had plans to man­u­fac­ture air con­di­tion­ing sys­tems in Egypt for a spe­cific brand. Where does this plan stand at the mo­ment?

We are still study­ing this as­pect and we have not made a fi­nal de­ci­sion about it. How­ever, there are ne­go­ti­a­tions with the brand we tar­get man­u­fac­tur­ing for.

What about the sit­u­a­tion of the call cen­tre ac­tiv­ity as one of Raya Hold­ing’s most im­por­tant in­vest­ments?

We are the largest call cen­tre com­pany in the Mid­dle East.We have about 11,000 per­sons work­ing in this field, and over eight call cen­tres in Egypt, in Cairo and Hurghada.We also have call cen­tres in Dubai and Poland.

Over the up­com­ing pe­riod, we will work to fur­ther ex­pand in the call cen­tre ac­tiv­ity, and we plan to hire about 1,000 more peo­ple through­out 2018.We also plan to ex­pand this spe­cific ac­tiv­ity in Saudi Ara­bia.

What about the data cen­tre ac­tiv­ity?

We were one of the first com­pa­nies to in­ject in­vest­ments into the ac­tiv­ity of data cen­tres. Cur­rently, we have a large data cen­tre lo­cated on an area of 300 sqm. Over the past few days, we dou­bled the size of the data cen­tre to take it to 600 sqm.

Is there a plan to of­fer new Raya com­pa­nies on the EGX?

Raya Hold­ing’s pol­icy re­lies on list­ing com­pa­nies on the Egyp­tian Ex­change (EGX). The larger these com­pa­nies be­come, in a way, that is con­ve­nient.

Cur­rently, we have large com­pa­nies whose shares could be launched on the EGX. They are Raya Trade and Raya In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy.

What is the value of the com­pany’s in­vest­ments this year?

I am not able to re­veal fig­ures for this year.How­ever,in 2017,our in­vest­ments reached EGP 500m.

We have not seen any ex­pan­sions made by you in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor. What is the rea­son for this?

We are one of the most im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies in Egypt, and the first Egyp­tian com­pany in the sec­tor. Mainly, we are a tech­nol­ogy com­pany. We do not mean to with­draw from the sec­tor just be­cause we have not in­jected in­vest­ments into it over the past pe­riod.

Un­for­tu­nately, there are no promis­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties cur­rently ex­is­tent in the sec­tor, hence, we try to push our in­vest­ments in the sec­tor of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. The govern­ment sec­tor is see­ing a re­ces­sion and its in­vest­ments are al­most non-ex­is­tent.

Has the di­ver­sity in the sec­tors you are ac­tive in helped you sur­vive the slow­down in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sec­tor?

Cer­tainly. Dur­ing the pe­riod that fol­lowed the Jan­uary 2011 rev­o­lu­tion, there was a state of re­ces­sion in the sec­tor of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. It re­sulted in many com­pa­nies shut­ting down, but thanks to the di­ver­sity of our in­vest­ments and hav­ing a large seg­ment of our clients live out­side Egypt,we were able to sur­vive these cir­cum­stances.

Will you con­tinue to adopt this strat­egy in the fu­ture?

Our strat­egy re­lies on seek­ing in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties that are in line with our strat­egy and the state’s strat­egy, which mainly aims to gen­er­ate jobs and in­crease ex­ports.

Are there expansion plans for the up­com­ing pe­riod?

We are mov­ing steadily in the UAE mar­ket, and we have more than 400 peo­ple work­ing at the com­pany’s call cen­tre in Dubai.

As for the Saudi Ara­bian mar­ket, it is strate­gic and im­por­tant for us.We are also achiev­ing good growth rates in the ser­vices of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and call cen­tres. More­over, we have ma­jor in­vest­ments in Nige­ria and over 400 em­ploy­ees in the Nige­rian ci­ties Lagos and Abuja.

Cur­rently, we have an in­vest­ment part­ner­ship in the largest cof­fee bean fac­tory in Uganda, so we ex­pect strong growth from the mar­ket of Uganda over the up­com­ing pe­riod.

Do you have plans to es­tab­lish an in­vest­ment fund for star­tups?

We have many star­tups of­fered be­fore us, but we will not be es­tab­lish­ing an in­vest­ment fund for the sec­tor, although we might start in­vest­ing into them di­rectly as Raya Hold­ing. Cur­rently, we are study­ing sev­eral com­pa­nies to look into the mech­a­nisms of ac­quir­ing one of them or in­vest­ing in them.

What is your opin­ion on the re­form mea­sures for the in­vest­ment cli­mate?

The in­vest­ment cli­mate was im­proved well and flex­i­ble laws were passed to at­tract in­vest­ments. How­ever, there is still a need for ac­ti­vat­ing the roles of min­istries on a wider scale. Some min­istries were ded­i­cated only to ad­ver­tis­ing and publicity.

What is the dol­lar price in your bud­get?

The dol­lar will re­main sta­ble this year. The in­ter­est rate, how­ever, will decline by 2-3%.

Which of Raya’s af­fil­i­ates had the largest share of Raya Hold­ing’s prof­its?

Over the past two years, the call cen­tre and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies were the most grow­ing in the group.They have both earned around EGP 220m of the com­pany’s to­tal prof­its, with EGP 160m made by the call cen­tre com­pany and EGP 60m by the in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pany.

Raya Hold­ing is al­ways look­ing for new in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. Are there any sec­tors you plan to in­ject in­vest­ments into?

Raya Hold­ing has turned into a fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment com­pany, so we are look­ing for any promis­ing in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the sec­tor. Re­cently, we en­tered into a part­ner­ship with the Ital­ian com­pany Pi­ag­gio to man­u­fac­ture and as­sem­ble light trans­porta­tion ve­hi­cles in Egypt, with in­vest­ments worth over EGP 100m.

Our strat­egy for in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties re­lies mainly on fo­cus­ing on ones that de­pend on large work­forces, such as call cen­tres and man­u­fac­tur­ing, as well as in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties that could be ex­ported from Egypt.

Are there spe­cific sec­tors you will be in­ject­ing new in­vest­ments in?

We are fo­cus­ing on the food in­dus­tries sec­tor, and re­cently, we in­jected in­vest­ments into a fac­tory to freeze fruits and veg­eta­bles in the city of Sa­dat with in­vest­ments over EGP 200m. We also ex­port its prod­ucts.

Med­hat Khalil, the com­pany’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and chair­per­son

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