A BRIGHTER FUTURE

Morocco 2020/21 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

By focusing heavily on financing, RMF seeks to help create an environment that will give Moroccans the opportunity to develop their projects and skills for the good of society.

Abdeslam Ababou
BIOGRAPHY

Abdeslam Ababou is the CEO of Red Med Finance and Red Med Asset Management. He has 30 years of experience in advisory financing services and has led several consulting missions, capital development, and restructuring transactions. He founded Red Med Finance in 2004 and Red Med Asset Management in 2011. Between 2000 and 2003, he was co-founder and CEO of Advisory & Finance Group and president & co-founder of Advisory Asset Management. He began his career at Bank Paribas in Paris and then London. He holds an engineering degree from ENSEEIHT France and is also a board member of several companies.

What does RMF specialize in?
Red Med Group is an independent investment bank specializing in corporate finance and asset management established in Morocco in 2004. RMF provides a wide range of advisory and financial services to governments, major international and local companies, as well as SMEs. RMF's core business includes mergers and acquisitions transactions, financing through conventional products and capital market (IPOs, bonds issues, and so on), privatizations, and strategy consulting. In that context, RMF has developed a sharp expertise in key industries such as education, health, telecommunications, renewable energies, natural resources, agribusiness, retail, pharmaceutical, banking, insurance, and others. Red Med Asset Management (RMAM) has more than USD600 million under management through a range of eight UCITS funds (monetary, bond, equity, diversified, and dedicated funds).

Can you tell us more about your clients?
Regarding the asset management activity, we work with major institutional Moroccan investors including private and public pension funds, insurance companies, banks, as well as SMEs and individuals. In 2019, RMAM was selected through a tender offer launched by a one of the largest pension funds in Morocco to manage a dedicated UCITS aligned with its risk/return profile. With respect to the corporate finance activity, RMF and its employees have contributed to the realization of some of the most important transactions in Morocco catering to both international and national companies. RMF has also advised SMEs on successfully moving up to new levels in terms of size and governance. RMF's services are based on tailored and innovative solutions to capture sustainable value for its clients, regardless of the size of the transaction.

Do you have any partnerships to assist with SME financing?
SMEs, which are keystones to the development of the economy, are involved in different activities pertaining to health,
education, trade, agriculture, crafts, tourism, and so on. However, they face difficulties in accessing adequate financing due to the constraints of the banking system, the limited offers of alternative financing, and the lack of resources available to them. The various public and private actors are fully aware of the economic and social importance of a strong and sustainable development for SMEs. In this context and in consultation with various public and private partners, RMF's main priority for the coming years is to strongly contribute to this project by providing effective support to SMEs in order to get competitive access to sources of financing combined with the adequate governance.

What will happen in the finance sector in the coming years in terms of digitalization?
In the last few years, digital technologies have disrupted the financial sector all over the world. Technology innovation
is enabling the digital deployment of traditional financial services (payments, bank transfers, and so on) and second-wave services (money transfer and blockchain). Digital technologies in the financial sector in Morocco are still at an early stage of development but growing fast. According to Bank Al-Maghrib, more than one-third of Moroccans do not have access to a bank account. A lack of access to such basic financial services hampers entrepreneurship and holds back economic growth. In the
coming years, we will see the emergence of Moroccan fintechs that will unleash the potential of Moroccan digital startups, promote financial inclusion, and help the country reach its development objectives.

What is your vision for 2020?
Morocco is a country with not only great potential but also great challenges. Efforts must be made to develop the
country not only through its natural resources and economy, but also through its people. My ambition is to contribute
to an environment that will give young people every opportunity to develop their projects for their own good and for the good of the society. We need to attract all those talented young people and give them the tools to develop their skills. My goal for Red Med is to play a role in this direction. We will focus heavily on financing, which we have highlighted as an objective for 2020, and will assist SMEs and young people to gain access to competitive financing.