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Fri 1 Dec 2006 12:00 AM

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Kanoo to make European debut

Kanoo Travel has announced its first venture outside of the Middle East in a double agreement with American Express, and revealed plans to open Kanoo branches in the UK.

Akber M Saati, group general manager, the Kanoo group of companies, told ATN the comp- any hoped to operate its own Kanoo or Kanoo Holidays outlets in the UK “within the next year”.

“In the UK, London will be the first place [we will open].

There are a few prime locations we will introduce – Haymarket and Knightsbridge – and then we will look to the north and south,” he said.

Saati was speaking after the Kanoo Group announced two deals with American Express.

The first will see Kanoo acquire full ownership of 12 American Express Foreign Exchange Services locations, 10 in the UK and two in France, all of which will be re-branded with the Kanoo name.

“For the first time, Kanoo Travel will have an ownership presence in Europe,” said Abdulla Kanoo, group chairman of the Kanoo group of companies.

“American Express has given us a competitive edge throughout the Middle East.

Now, we have the opportunity to extend this relationship in Europe.”

Kanoo will assume ownership of the French outlets from February 1, 2007, and the UK branches by the end of the same month. The deal does not include any of the American Express Foreign Exchange Services in airports, which the company said Amex was keen to retain.

In a separate contract, 18 American Express consumer travel locations in the UK will become part of the Kanoo/American Express Travel partnership.

Under deal terms, Kanoo will invest in the business, but the outlets will continue to operate under the American Express brand.

Kanoo Travel operates the largest travel network in the Middle East with more than 170 travel office locations Gulf-wide.

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