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News: A vision to enhance multi-level synergies
The recent acquisition of an Apple business in Poland and of APCO in Malta has drawn attention to PTL International, the technology division of Hili Ventures. In an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday, Kenneth Spiteri, CEO of PTL International, explained the logic behind the growth.
PTL International is the technology pillar of Hili Ventures, the Marsa-headquartered diversified group. Set up earlier this year, it draws all Hili Ventures’ diversified IT activities into one business cluster allowing PTL International to pride itself on a critical mass of specialised capabilities, knowledge and experience.
It is present in no fewer than seven countries with 400 employees, and its recent acquisitions now mean its turnover will exceed €100 million. Its key drivers are communications, borderless value added services, retail and business solutions.
Across its activities in various industries and markets, PTL International enjoys high level technological, operational, and management expertise, resulting in multi-level synergies. It encompasses PTL Malta, with offices in Libya, Dubai and Latvia, Hili Salomone (a joint venture with VJ Salomone operating Apple Premium Reseller stores in Hungary and Romania), and a shareholding in IT leasing company Smart Technologies. Between 1 July and 1 August, PTL International announced that it had acquired SAD, Poland’s largest Apple retailer, and APCO, a leading Malta-based payments business.
PTL International will continue to consider acquisitions that will allow it to enhance synergies across the group by focusing on the four key business drivers.
The recent purchase of SAD in Poland allows it to grow its retail arm. SAD operates 22 Apple Premium Resellers operating under the iSpot brand across the country. It has just opened its ninth store in Warsaw, SAD’s flagship, with a total footprint of 300 square metres, including a service centre. Its location on a high street means it is well positioned to tap a footfall of around eight million people a month. Significantly, the store is Apple’s 900th Premium Reseller store in Europe.
“A retail chain gives a solid cash flow throughout the year which is not always possible with other business models,” PTL International CEO Kenneth Spiteri explained. “Poland presents a significant market to SAD, with its population of 40 million and an ever-growing business community. SAD’s presence in all the major cities in Poland gives PTL International high visibility, reach and major opportunities, not least because it represents Apple, a leader in technology innovation. Poland provides an environment that is ripe for growth, where ICT is a fast-growing sector in an economy on a sustainable upward trend.”
SAD also has a considerable B2B outfit providing Apple solutions to the business community, and its own research and development function. It is another key driver in that it offers business solutions, the ability to harness modern technology and also provide software development.
SAD recently delivered a solution to the Polish Parliament, the Sejm, thanks to which all data and parliamentary activity is pushed to MPs’ iPads in a completely paperless, collaborative and highly secure environment making it one of the very first in the world.
SAD is also involved in education and is heavily engaged in training people to use Apple and third party technologies.
The company will venture further into apps for mobile and tablet – its apps are currently used by more than one million people in Poland. It has developed one for Orange telecom and another for the Polish telecom company TVP.
PTL International plans to continue to extend the retail chain and possibly expand outside Poland. The group already operates four Apple Premium Resellers through a joint venture with VJ Salomone in Hungary and Romania under the iCentre brand.
Meanwhile, APCO Ltd, its latest acquisition, adds payments to PTL International’s capabilities portfolio, a strategic addition given the prospects for mobile and online payments worldwide. Established in 1987, APCO’s structure now has two key divisions. APCO Ltd is engaged in equipment sales, maintenance and other services, and provisioning of payment gateway services. APCO Systems Ltd is involved in software development, operational support, and an internal data centre operation.
APCO enjoys top of mind mention for payment solutions, including systems with payment processing for debit, credit cards and other payment platforms, including processing for mail and telephone order. Its hardware and automation portfolio features ATMs, 24-hour deposit machines, 24-hour currency exchanges, EPOS terminals, plastic cards, and cash-handling equipment.
PTL International was born from Hili Ventures’ strategy to direct more investment into growing its IT pillar, following its acquisition of Philip Toledo Ltd in 2012. Now operating under its new brand, PTL, the Malta company prides itself on a legacy for delivering ICT solutions to the banking, government, hospitality and the retail sector. Through synergies with other companies within PTL International such as SAD, the Malta company will continue to develop its offering to various sectors.
PTL has an office in Dubai, the retail mecca, mostly focusing on solutions for this sector. Its offices in Libya and in Riga are an extension of the Malta business.
“What clients look for is something that is simple, secure and seamless. Each industry operates in a regulated environment and in a very competitive one too,” Mr Spiteri said of PTL International’s underlying vision. “Clients look for solutions that fit their needs, but the delivery requires specific skills from the service provider. PTL in Malta, for example, is an expert in this field. It harnesses various skills to come up with a solution that takes the business further. One area where this has been done is in the distribution sector. But this can also be the case in other areas such as telecoms, gaming, and media – each has very specific needs. We have to possess extensive knowledge about each sector and about what technology can do for it.”
Going forward, PTL International aims to grow further not just by venturing into new territories but also by moving up the value chain, by investing in cutting-edge technology aiming to help clients and customers get the latest solutions for their business.
“Our acquisition strategy is to seek out leaders of niche markets,” Mr Spiteri explained. “We are working to identify synergies with our present capabilities to also fuel organic growth in parallel and to further enhance our ability to innovate. The expertise of the people within PTL International is our major asset. They have high levels of experience and exposure to international trends, and we invest heavily in developing their potential. They will be key to PTL International’s growth and will support us as we ascend the value chain.”
This interview first appeared in The Malta Independent on Sunday of August 17, 2014.