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Tue 8 Sep 2009 07:39 AM

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Finance firm eyes break-even point in 2011

Abu Dhabi's Dunia says launch during global crisis has helped to build company brand.

Finance firm eyes break-even point in 2011
FINANCIAL TIMES: Dunia launched its financial services at the height of the global credit crunch.

Dunia, an Abu Dhabi-based firm that is backed by two of the world’s largest government-linked funds, is on track to breaking even in two years, its CEO has said.

“We would hopefully - on a full year basis - break even by the third year,” Rajeev Kakar told Arabian Business. “That’s per our plan and we are tracking slightly ahead of our plan.”

The financial services company, which Abu Dhabi investment fund Mubadala Development and Singapore-backed Temasek both have stakes in, launched at the height of the global financial crisis in September last year.

Despite the timing, Kakar said the economic downturn had provided the lender with its biggest advantage in an already saturated market. “It would have been far harder to build a brand because in normal times we could have got lost in the crowd. In advertising, we probably would have struggled against the real estate companies… [and] banking and financial institutions.

“[Having] the benefit of no legacy and the benefit of being able to add far more people made it slightly easier,” he said. “Our timing was just right. In retrospect it made sense.”

The firm, which currently has one branch, is adding an additional 19 branches across the UAE, which will be ready by the end of the year, and is hiring around 100 new staff per month, he added.

“We [currently have] around 700-800 people and growing - roughly at the pace of 100 new people a month,” he said. “We are increasingly building customer relations [and] on the credit and research side.”

Dunia, which means “the world” in several languages including Urdu and Arabic, is aiming to capture 70 percent of the UAE market, it says is currently underserved by other institutions. The lender offers credit cards and personal loans to the lower end of the pay bracket and also supports SMEs.

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