South Africa's Tourvest to acquire local Travelex assets

The deal is set to create the biggest independent foreign exchange business in South Africa.

The financial services division of tourism group, Tourvest, has acquired the South African assets of global forex provider Travelex, the company announced on Tuesday.

The deal is set to create the biggest independent foreign exchange business in South Africa and will see Tourvest own 75 percent of the new entity, with Travelex owning the balance. The value of the deal was not disclosed. 

Tourvest’s financial services business provided foreign exchange services at retail branches in South Africa under the name American Express Foreign Exchange, per a brand licensing agreement with American Express that is due to expire in June this year.

With the acquisition of Travelex, Tourvest Financial Services now has 87 foreign exchange services branches in South Africa, and expects to increase its number of annual transactions in the country from approximately 500 000 to around 860 000.

By June, the American Express Foreign Exchange branches will be rebranded as Travelex.

Andrew McDonic, Tourvest’s divisional chief executive, said that the process of integrating Travelex’s local operations into Tourvest’s systems is already underway.

He said the deal is advantageous to both companies.  Tourvest can still operate under a globally-recognised brand after June and will have access to Travelex’s global network of foreign exchange bureaux.  Travelex is the world’s largest independent foreign exchange business, having acquired Thomas Cook in 2001, and has over 1 200 stores in 27 countries, employing more than 9 000 people.

Michelle Turney, commercial director, Africa & Global New Markets at Travelex, said that the South African travel-related foreign exchange market is valued at R25 billion, excluding credit card purchases, and the combined Travelex/Tourvest operation would command a local market share in excess of 20 percent.

“This would make us the largest independent retail foreign exchange provider in South Africa,” he said.

American Express will continue to focus its core payments business in South Africa with Nedbank, as well as offer its travel services in South Africa.