Cloud-based international payment and currency risk management firm Cornerstone FS plc (LON:CSFS) has announced that it has expanded into the Middle East with the opening of an office in Dubai. The new office will be led by Robert O’Brien who has joined Cornerstone, as General Manager APAC and Middle East.

Robert O’Brien was previously at Vorto Trading Ltd, where he was the largest revenue generator and built a business line based on inward investment into the UK from Asian clients. His appointment is in line with the Group’s stated acquisition and expansion strategy set out at its IPO in April 2021.

The Group has established the new office to market its foreign exchange and international payment management services to foreign investors in Dubai and particularly to Asian investors acquiring real estate in the Emirate. The Board believes this represents a significant and expanding market opportunity owing to the increasing foreign investment in Dubai real estate, which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and is supported by a number of government incentives. At present, the Group will not be undertaking regulated financial activity in Dubai.

Robert O’Brien brings over 15 years’ foreign exchange experience to Cornerstone. His leadership of the Dubai office is expected to deliver significant growth in the Group’s revenue. As part of his remuneration package over the first two years he will be entitled to receive share-based incentivisation based on a multiple of revenue generation and contribution to profit. This will be measured at the end of both years. In the first year, any new ordinary shares earned under this incentivisation plan would be issued at the lower of the IPO Placing Price (61 pence per share) or the average closing price of Cornerstone shares for the 20 business days prior to issue. In the second year, any new ordinary shares earned under this incentivisation plan would be issued at the average closing price of Cornerstone shares for the 20 business days prior to issue.

Robert O’Brien spent the early part of his career at First Rate FX Ltd, a foreign exchange broker where he became a Director. Over the last year, he has focused on supporting customers in Asia invest in the UK.

Julian Wheatland, Chief Executive Officer of Cornerstone, said:

“Dubai is a major destination for foreign investment in real estate, particularly with funds from Asia, and its appeal has been enhanced during the pandemic. Dubai also serves as a gateway to the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, making it an increasingly important centre for global FX. By establishing a presence there, we will be able to tap into this sizeable and growing market. We are thrilled that Robert has joined Cornerstone to lead our expansion into Dubai. He has an excellent track record in growing businesses as well as in marketing to customers in Asia. His appointment, along with the recent establishment of our Asia team, should also significantly increase our direct business, in line with our stated strategy. We look forward to leveraging his skills and experience to drive growth in this exciting market.”

Robert O’Brien, General Manager APAC and Middle East at Cornerstone, added:

“I am delighted to have become a part of the Cornerstone team and to be leading our strategic expansion to Dubai. It is a vibrant financial hub that is receiving a sharp rise in international investment interest, particularly in real estate. We are well-placed to support foreign businesses or individuals seeking to invest in Dubai by removing the headache of currency and payments management. Having worked as a partner of Cornerstone for a number of years, I’m familiar with the strength of the platform and I’m impressed with the dedication and ambition of the Board and management team.”

Cornerstone FS plc is a payments focused fintech business that makes managing currency simple for SMEs. It provides international payment, currency risk management and electronic account services using a proprietary cloud-based multi-currency payments platform. These services are delivered directly and via white label partners on a SaaS basis to SMEs that engage in international trade. Cornerstone also serves some high-net worth individual clients. Headquartered in the City of London, UK and with an office in Dubai, Cornerstone is listed on AIM under the trading symbol ‘CSFS’.