International Holding Company PJSC (ADX: IHC), the Abu Dhabi-based conglomerate controlled by Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, son of the founder of the UAE announced it has made a capital investment of AED 734 million, approximately $200 million USD, representing 49.9% in Colombian tycoon Jaime Gilinski’s Lulo Colombia S.A., the holding company of Lulo Bank S.A., through one of its subsidiaries.
Lulo Bank is a digital-first “neobank” serving the Colombian market with plans to expand into other Latin American countries. The bank was founded by Jaime Gilinski, a Colombian businessman who also controls Banco GNB Sudameris, ATM network Servibanca, news magazine Semana, and is currently involved in a takeover battle for Colombian food titan Grupo Nutresa.
IHC CEO Syed Basar Shueb commented on the investment: “The fintech ecosystem in Latin America has risen quickly over the past couple of years with sustained growth observed in all segments and in the number of active fintech companies, especially digital banking which has witnessed the most substantial growth at an average annual rate of 57% between 2017 and 2021 to reach 60%. In the case of Colombia, it has made significant progress in terms of financial inclusion with the increase in access to financial products, which rose to 87%. It’s critical for us to align any transaction with our growth strategies, whether to acquire new capabilities or consolidate, and Lulo Colombia S.A. sits very well with our expansion plans in Latin America ”.
Lulo Bank claims to have signed up more than 120,000 customers since it was launched in June this year and aims to complete more than 200,000 users applications before the end of 2022. The bank says it hopes to achieve a customer base of 1 million Colombians within the next three years.
Benjamin Gilinski, Chairman of Lulo Bank and son of Jaime Gilinski, said: “Digital banking has come a long way in Colombia. Adoption of new behaviors and new technologies takes time, but it’s already dramatically changed how consumers interact with financial products in our market. The financial companies that win in the future will be those that understand that human behavior is constantly changing and keep on investing in new technologies. We are thrilled to have IHC join our mission of revolutionizing the financial landscape in Latin America.”
The Colombian market is the fourth global market IHC is expanding its investment activities into this year after the United Kingdom, India, and Turkey.