Abraaj’s Urbano move

The investment firm’s recent foray into Latin America reflects its wide reach across the global marketplace

September 2015

The Abraaj Group, a leading investor operating in global growth markets, has acquired, through one of its funds, a majority stake in Urbano Express, a leading courier and light logistics solutions company in Latin America with operations in Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador.

Urbano is the market leader for document delivery services in the three countries where it operates, with a unique last-mile distribution network that reaches approximately 85 per cent of the population, said a statement from the company.

Established in Ecuador in 1996, Urbano expanded to El Salvador in 1998 and Peru in 2003. From an initial focus on postal distribution and mass mailing, the company has diversified its service offerings and is now organised into five business lines: document delivery, parcel and package, external logistics, printing and document management services, and business intelligence services.

The company’s corporate clients include financial institutions, telecom operators, traditional retailers and e-commerce companies, it added.

The courier and light logistics sector in Latin America is experiencing rising demand from increased banking penetration, growing demand for telecom services and expanding e-commerce, among other factors, making it a compelling area of investment.

Abraaj and Urbano’s management team will focus on enhancing the company’s existing light logistics offerings while entering into new and complementary business lines that can further augment growth, including call centres, customs clearing, shop and ship, and fleet management solutions.

Abraaj integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into its investments and plans to further strengthen Urbano’s ESG record by optimising corporate governance and health and safety practices across its operations and implementing energy-efficient initiatives in its distribution network.

It first invested in the logistics sector in 2002 through its acquisition of Aramex in the Middle East, one of the most successful public-to-private transactions in the region.

Abraaj subsequently invested in three other logistics businesses in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and has investments in the Pacific Alliance countries of Colombia, Mexico and Peru since 2008 across a range of sectors including retail, tourism, technology, food and beverage, and consumer goods.

Miguel Olea, partner and regional head of Latin America at Abraaj, said: “which is enjoying high levels of growth as a result of strong consumer and corporate demand.”

“Our investment in Urbano represents a partnership with a leading firm and an entrepreneurial management team who share our vision of growth for the business. Abraaj has a successful track record in the logistics sector in Asia, the Middle East and Africa and we look forward to bringing this expertise to bear in our investment in Latin America,” he said.

Andres Borrero, chief executive officer of Urbano, said: “This is an exciting period of growth for the company, and we look forward to a successful partnership with Abraaj.”

“With its track record of success in Latin America and its longstanding expertise in the global logistics sector, Abraaj is ideally placed to introduce new services and expand Urbano’s product and service offering and geographic presence,” he added.

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