Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Wirecard (WDI GY) ... Great Indian Retail Group

Tuesday 3rd November 2015

Wirecard (WDI GY) is a German listed electronic payment processing company, capitalised at €5.8 billion.

Wirecard share price
Source: Bloomberg
By way of background, the FT's Dan McCrum has produced some impressive analysis within his The House of Wirecard series. 

Wirecard (WDI) trades on 38x 2015 and 30x 2016 consensus* earnings. 
*According to Bloomberg

In 2014, the group reported c. €129 million in operating cash flow, spent c. €75 million in capex and a further expenditure of c. €83 million on acquisitions.

On Tuesday 27th October 2015, WDI announced its latest acquisition having acquired an Indian based payments business, Great Indian (GI) Retail Group. GI Retail was bought for a total cash consideration of €230 million. Seemingly, Wirecard is paying 32.8x GI Retail's forecast 2015 EBITDA.

Further payments of up to €110 million were also reported to be on the table, linked to financial performance in 2015 to 2017.

That seems like a fair chunk of change to pay out. Especially when the Great Indian Retail Group appears to be little more than a travel booking / ticketing agency. GI Retail's operations seem to centre on the employ of a large number of staff, each with a computer terminal, typically sat in the corner of various stores or kiosks, scattered around India and the Philippines.

But before I get to why I reckon this, here below is Wirecard's full press release:
Wirecard AG today announced its acquisition of the payments business of Great Indian (GI) Retail Group.
Wirecard AG today announced its acquisition of the payments business of Great Indian (GI) Retail Group. Founded in 2006, GI Retail Group is one of India’s and South East Asia’s leading electronic payment and retail-assisted e-commerce groups.
Wirecard will acquire 100 percent of the shares from GI Retail and financial investors of companies operating payment services in India, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia under the brands “iCASHCARD”, “Smartshop”, “StarGlobal”, “Commerce Payment” as well as several segment brands. 
Furthermore, Wirecard will also acquire 60 percent of the shares in GI Technology Private Limited (GIT), a licensed Prepaid Payment Instrument (PPI) issuer in India. Wirecard will take over more than 900 staff in offices in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Manila, Batam and Kuala Lumpur.
Dr. Markus Braun, CEO of Wirecard AG, says “Great Indian (GI) Retail Group has been on the forefront of India’s very dynamic and early-stage e-commerce and money remittance market for many years. Our investment into one of the region’s leading payment groups secures us a strong position in one of the world’s most rapidly growing electronic payment markets.”
The total cash consideration paid to GI Retail and financial investors including a capital increase of GI Technology will amount to EUR 230 million, completely paid for in cash and financed by own capital and by committed bank loans. Further payments of up to a total of EUR 110 million are linked to the overall financial performance of the acquired businesses in calendar years 2015 to 2017. Elements of the agreement are subject to certain closing conditions.
By combining innovative technology and an agent-assisted service delivery model spread across multiple countries, the acquired businesses have built a unique multi-channel platform to efficiently deliver a wide range of commerce offerings and financial services in rural and urban areas.
The acquisition secures Wirecard a stake in one of India’s fastest growing licensed Prepaid Payment Instrument (PPI) issuers as well as a Full Fledged Money Changers (FFMC) license in India, enabling the operation of multi-currency transaction and remittance services.
iCASHCARD, a semi-closed-loop electronic wallet issued by GI Technology, is India’s number one domestic (IMPS) remittance instrument and the leading semi-closed-loop payment instrument on IRCTC, Indian Railways’ website and one of the largest e-commerce sites in Asia-Pacific. Serving over 200.000 people daily, iCASHCARD can be recharged with cash, on a mobile or over the Internet and is accepted at more than 10.000 e-commerce sites in India, such as eBay, AirAsia, Bookmyshow and IRCTC.
Beside of their main growth market in India, the acquired businesses have successfully established operations in other South East Asian countries. A network of more than 100.000 contracted retail agents throughout the region provides top-up services not only for iCASHCARD but in addition a wide range of cash payment, banking correspondence, bill payment and domestic as well as international remittance services.
Consolidated revenues from the acquired businesses are well on track to exceed EUR 45 million in calendar year 2015, an increase of more than 50 percent compared to calendar year 2014, and EBITDA is expected to more than double year-on-year to exceed EUR 7 million. Revenues for calendar year 2016 are expected to exceed EUR 75 million and EBITDA after integration costs is expected to be between EUR 15 million and EUR 18 million.
India constitutes the world‘s 3rd largest Internet user base with an estimated 673 million Indians being online by 2020. Growing from USD 17 billion at present, India's e-commerce industry is likely to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35 percent and to cross the USD 100-billion mark by 2020.[1]  Transaction volumes in South East Asia are expected to grow from USD 7 billion in 2013 to USD 34.5 billion by 2018 , largely driven by Indonesia’s rapidly growing e-commerce industry.[2]
According to the World Bank, India continues to be the leading nation in inward remittances pulling in USD 70 billion from its global migrant workforce in 2014. The domestic remittance market in India was estimated to exceed USD 20 billion in 2014 and is benefiting from the advent of cost-effective alternatives to traditional informal channels.
[1] Source: Assocham-Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 2015
[2] Source: Frost & Sullivan, 2014

What is the Global Indian Retail Group?

As stated in Wirecard's release, GI Retail operates under the brands of "iCASHCARD", "Smartshop", "StarGlobal", "Commerce Payment" as well as several segment brands. These all sound very much like what you'd imagine internet payments and processing businesses to be called.  

The company reportedly employs over 900 staff. 

A quick google search brings up the following. 

Google search of GI Retail
Source: Google
Unsurprisingly, clicking on GI Retail takes you to its website. 

GI Retail website
Source: www.giretail.com
So far, so good. Although it's a pretty simple website. It currently has one page, detailing the three companies in the group: Hermes, GI Technology, and GI Hospitalities. The GI Retail site is so minimal, there isn't even (at the time of writing this post) the ability to click through to the individual company sub-sites. So I have placed the links below:


It is perhaps somewhat odd for a company that was acquired for €230 million that the main website for the group is so basic. It also doesn't even indicate who its management are, where its principal address is, or any contact details whatsoever.      

Here is slightly further down the GI Retail website. 

GI Retail website
Source: www.giretail.com
This suggests that "GI Retail Private Limited was established in 2007 to realize the Great Indian Dream of improving the life of every aspiring Indian."

Aside from the honorable but lofty goal, it suggests GI Retail was established in 2007 whereas Wirecard reckons in its press release above that GI Retail was established in 2006. Maybe one is a typo?  

Although, once upon a time, GI Retail was also founded in 2009, not 2006 and not 2007. 

GI Retail prior website
Source: Wayback Machine
Indeed, the Whois information on the giretail.com domain would suggest that the website was created in August 2009, not 2006 and not 2007. 

GI Retail domain creation date
Source: www.tcpiputils.com
Further, India's Ministry of Corporate Affairs website also suggests that the group was incorporated in June 2009.

Date of incorporation of GI Retail Private Limited
Source: Ministry of Corporate Affairs
Whatever the actual date of incorporation, both Hermes and GI Technology, two of the companies under the GI Retail umbrella, appear to have been incorporated in 2005.

Date of incorporation of Hermes
Source: Ministry of Corporate Affairs
Date of incorporation of GT Technology
Source: Ministry of Corporate Affairs
The third company in the group, GI Hospitalities seems to have been incorporated in August 2010.

Date of incorporation of GI Hospitalities
Source: Ministry of Corporate Affairs
Back to the GI Retail website and it claims to employ "nearly 1,000 staff across India and the Philippines." 

GI Retail website
Source: www.giretail.com
This echoes Wirecard's press release of the group having "more than 900 staff in offices in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Manila, Batam and Kuala Lumpur."

Returning to the Google search of "GI Retail" results from above. As you can see, six results down is the link to the GI Retail PVT Ltd LinkedIn page. 

Here it is. 

LinkedIn corporate page for GI Retail PVT Ltd
Source: www.linkedin.com
It is clearly the relevant LinkedIn profile page for GI Retail. The website details are there. It is based in India. 

According to LinkedIn, GI Retail has between 1-10 employees. Only 1 of those employees is on LinkedIn. This doesn't seem like many employees for the TopCo of a group of companies purchased for €230 million in cash.

The one guy on LinkedIn looks like it's the HR guy.    

GI Retail's one employee on LinkedIn
Source: www.linkedin.com
This also looks like it could be that HR guy. 

GI Retail's HR Assistant Manager
Source: www.naukri.com

As can be seen, he's not currently hiring. 

But he has hired in the past. He says he looks for skills and roles to do with "International Ticketing, Domestic Ticketing, Tour Packages, Inbound Tour, Outbound Tour, IATA, Airticket Sales, B2b Sales, Corporate Sales, Travel Agent, Hotel Contracting."

Some of his recent hires include: Call Center Manager, Call Center Executive, Business Process Outsourcing customer care executive, Net Developer, Corporate Ticketing.

Recent hires
Source: www.naukri.com
What ticketing operators, tour package experience and these other types of hires have to do with electronic payment processing I am uncertain. 

While the LinkedIn corporate profile for GI Retail PVT Ltd is somewhat minimal, the profile for Hermes is more substantial.  

LinkedIn corporate page for Hermes i Network Private Limited
Source: www.linkedin.com 
This claims somewhere between 201-500 employees. Further, that "Hermes is India's No. 1 Retail Assisted E-Commerce network." And that "Hermes retail points provide services such as money transfer, bill payments for e-commerce and utilities and insurance payments, and many more."

"Hermes retail points ...". Hmmm.

What is Hermes?

www.tourtravelworld.com reckons that Hermes is a travel and ticketing agent. That it has been a member since 2012, based in India. The reported address is the same as the Hermes i Network Private Limited LinkedIn profile address, namely: "No C-9, Thiruvika Industrial Estate, Guindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India - 600032."

TourTravelWorld.com details on Hermes I Tickets Pvt Ltd
Source: www.tourtravelworld.com
Here is the Hermes website, located at www.hermesnetwork.in

Hermes - Destination Future website
Source: www.hermesnetwork.in
It doesn't mention much about travel agents or bookings. It does about "Money transfer, bill payments and so much more." It looks pretty snazzy.

This appears to be a relatively new site, seemingly created in May 2015, registered by Hermes i Tickets. 

Hermesnetwork.in domain creation date
Source: www.tcpiputils.com

Here is another version of the Hermes site just a few months earlier from February 2015. It is/was located at www.hermes-it.in, which if you enter into your browser these days will redirect you to the new site www.hermesnetwork.in.   

Hermes website from February 2015
Source: Wayback Machine
Hermes website from February 2015
Source: Wayback Machine
Back in February 2015 there was very little mention of "Money transfer, bill payments and so much more." What was principally highlighted was the travel side of the business. 

Incidentally, on the the travel side of the business, it would appear that Hermes is the proud owner of its "flagship product" and travel booking site, www.getmytrip.com. This is one of the three brands in its network, highlighted by the drop down tab on the top right of the hermesnetwork.in site. 

www.getmytrip.com
www.getmytrip.com - flagship product
Indeed, in the contact section of the GetMyTrip website, it shares exactly the same main contact telephone number as www.hermesnetwork.in. The contact address is also the same at "No C-9, Thiruvika Industrial Estate, Guindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India - 600032." 

The contact number (+91-1800-108-1080) is reportedly 24-7.

It is in fact the main reported contact number for all of the Hermes, GetMyTrip, ICASHCARD and The Smart Shop businesses. However, when I called it, it appeared to redirect to a very sleepy sounding man who told me that I had the wrong number.

Of course it is very possible that there were some issues in understanding what I was saying as I do not speak Indian, and he spoke very limited sleepy English. For the record, I was asking if I could plan a trip with GetMyTrip. But it makes one wonder, if all the websites are in English then why would they have a poor English speaker answering the 24-7 hotline?

Same telephone contact details on each of the Hermes, GetMyTrip,
ICASHCARD, and The Smart Shop websites
Source: hermesnetwork.in, getmytrip.com, icashcard.in, thesmartshop.in

Maybe the value in GI Retail is all to do with the sorts of partnerships Hermes has taken up with companies such as Maya Group

Here is the home page to Maya Group. Bottom left is the logo for Smart Shop another Hermes related product. 

Maya Group an associate of Smart Shop
Source: www.mayagroup.in

What is The Smart Shop?

"The Smart Shop is the flag ship retail agent format of Hermes I Tickets Private Ltd. It has been conceived and designed to provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions to the common man for travel, money transfer and payment services at a location close to him. TheSmartShop provides the common man various options (based on price, comfort and convenience) to plan his trip, booking of air/bus/train tickets, hotel/ car rental / holiday tour packages booking, to transfer money to any bank branch anywhere in India at any time to do mobile or DTH recharge to make monthly payments for electricity, telephone, utility and credit card bills to sell online non life insurance policy for travel health and motor." 
In other words, The Smart Shop sounds very much like where the common poor man without internet access goes to book a holiday, buy a train ticket, pay a bill, buy some life insurance from some bloke at a kiosk.

Smart Shop - the flagship retail agent format of Hermes I Tickets Private Ltd
Source: www.thesmartshop.in
So how is Maya Group associated with Smart Shop?

Well here are the details of how it works, as well as a handy photo of the lads hard at work at Maya Group and by extension one supposes, The Smart Shop too.  


The lads at Maya Group hard at work
Source: www.mayagroup.in
You can see that those guys are poised, waiting for a lucky common man poor punter to just walk in and sit in that chair to book a holiday, buy a train ticket, pay a bill, buy some life insurance. 

If it wasn't apparent (it wasn't to me) what "S-Commerce" is, as alluded to in the Maya Group website, here is some information courtesy of Maya Group's other partner, Suvidhaa Infoserve PVT. Ltd. Suvidhaa Infoserve provides a helpful demonstration video on youtube. 


The entire 3 minutes 36 seconds is entertaining but if you skip to 2 minutes 7 seconds it explains what "S-Commerce" is.

It would appear that "S-Commerce" is some bloke sat in the corner of an Indian store or kiosk, with a computer doing anything on the internet a common man requests to do with regards to ticket purchasing, bill paying, life insurance etc. 

So my question is this: Is GI Retail, which thus far appears to be largely a travel booking agent, employing a large group of blokes with desktops sat in various stores and kiosks scattered around India and the Philippines really worth €230 million? And how is this majorly different from a chain of internet cafes?

Incidentally, here is seemingly what The Smart Shop advertises as the job spec to hire its employees, highlighting the associated commission rates the hire can expect to earn with each item sold to the common man.

It's a nice touch that it will cost the lucky applicant what looks like a non-refundable 54,000 Rupees or c. £530 just to apply, or about one month's expected salary.

Job advert for a Smart Shop Distributor
Source: www.onlineagents.in

What about the digital presence?

While these businesses may be very much people driven, where some of the employees even pay an initial non-refundable charge to apply for a job, surely there is also a solid, and large accompanying digital presence?

Here is the Google Play page for the Get My Trip app.

The Get My Trip app
Source: Google Play
And here is where it shows that it has received 79 reviews and installed no greater than 5,000 times. It would appear there is not much of a digital presence among the common man.

The Get My Trip app reviews and installs
Source: Google Play
Here is the Google Play page for The Smart Shop app.

The Smart Shop app
Source: Google Play
And here is where it shows it has received 359 reviews and installed no greater than 50,000 times. Again this does not strike me as especially demonstrative of a major digital presence.

The Smart Shop app reviews and installs
Source: Google Play

What is GI Technology?

The other main business under GI Retail seems to be GI Technology Private Ltd.  

This would appear to be its corporate profile page on LinkedIn. 

LindkedIn corporate page for GI Technology Pvt Ltd
Source: www.linkedIn.com
Very little detail is provided. Not even the website address. 44 employees seem to be on LinkedIn. 

Here is the lower section of the front page of GI Technology's website. As it highlights, Hermes is one of its partners, as is Suvidhaa, the other "S-Commerce" partner with Maya Group, above. 

GI Technology partners and products
Source: www.gitechnology,in
iCASHCARD is GI Technology's product. It was mentioned in Wirecard's press release at the beginning of this post.

On its website, GI Technology's indicates that it is "... the issuer of iCASH, India's leading prepayment instrument (PPI) further to a licence granted to GIT by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 29 October 2009."

But what sort of licence was this? It seems to be just a payment card licence. 

What GI Technology doesn't appear to have is a "Payment Bank" Licence, of which 11 were issued by the Reserve Bank of India on 19 August 2015. 

GI Technology did apply for a Payment Bank licence, along with 40 others. 

Applicants for Payment Bank Licence
Source: www.rbi.org.in
 But only 11 appear to have been issued a licence. And GI Technology doesn't seem to be one. 

Applicants granted in principle a Payment Bank Licence
Source: www.rbi.org.in

And another thing

These types of kiosk based, travel, ticketing, money transfer businesses seem to be two a Rupee in India. Here's 19 others for starters.
  1. Suvidhaa Infoserve Pvt. Ltd
  2. Oxigen Services Pvt. Ltd
  3. Eko India Financial Services Ltd
  4. Payworld (Sugal and Damani)
  5. Reliance Money Infrastructure Ltd
  6. Easy Bill Ltd (Hero Group)
  7. Multilink MOS Utility Pvt. Ltd
  8. Paypoint India Network Pvt. Ltd
  9. ITZ Cash Ltd
  10. Beam Money Pvt. Ltd
  11. Seed Financial Services Pvt. Ltd
  12. mPurse Services Pvt. Ltd (Infotel Group)
  13. FIA Technology Services Pvt. Ltd
  14. Spice Digital Ltd
  15. EZspend Prepaid Payment Solutions Pvt. Ltd
  16. Sollet Soft Solutions Pvt. Ltd
  17. Muthoot Finance Ltd
  18. Mannapuram Finance Ltd
  19. BASIX Sub-K iTransactions Ltd
As for digital presence, here is a randomly searched for ticketing app in India.

A quick search threw out the "Ticket Booking and Recharge" app.

According to Google Play:

  • This app has 6,829 reviews as compared to The Smart Shop app's 359 reviews. 
  • This app has 500,000 to 1,000,000 installs as compared to The Smart Shop app's 10,000 to 50,000 installs. 

Note also the other similar ticket booking apps recommended below.

According to Google Play:

  • The offical IRCTC Connect has 131,111 reviews and 5,000,000 to 10,000,000 installs. 
  • Indian Rail IRCTC & Train PNR has 14,404 reviews and 500,000 to 1,000,000 installs.

A competing ticket booking app - Ticket Booking and Recharge
Source: Google Play
Reviews of Ticket Booking and Recharge
Source: Google Play
Installs of competing ticket booking app and other similar recommended apps
Source: Google Play
I reckon GI Retail is an altogether strange acquisition for €230 million.

I am short Wirecard.

Disclaimer: The information, discussions or topics referred to on this blog should in no way be considered “advice” to buy or sell anything. The information which may be referred to is freely available in the public domain and where required the source of information is referenced to for verification. While every effort has been made to ensure the veracity of any information contained within this blog, the author accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any information contained within this blog or for the sources of information which may be referred to. Readers are responsible for their own actions and interpretation of the information contained within this blog. 

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