Saudi-backed TruKKer secures $10m venture debt from US firm

Saudi-backed TruKKer secures $10m venture debt from US firm
TruKKer’s network stretches into the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, with a fleet of over 25,000 trucks. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 22 December 2020

Saudi-backed TruKKer secures $10m venture debt from US firm

Saudi-backed TruKKer secures $10m venture debt from US firm
  • Deal with Silicon Valley-based firm PFG described as largest-ever venture-debt in Mid-East tech history

DUBAI: TruKKer, the region’s first on-demand truck aggregator, has raised a $10 million strategic venture debt from Silicon Valley-based firm Partners for Growth (PFG).

The logistics firm, which is backed by Saudi investors and often referred to as “Uber for trucks,” has secured what has been described as the largest-ever venture-debt in Middle Eastern tech history.

Founded in 2016, TruKKer also raised $23 million last year in a Series A funding round that included STV, IFC and Endeavor Catalyst. The new deal will mark PFG’s first investment in the region.

TruKKer is a majority Saudi-owned company with other investors from the Kingdom including Riyadh Capital and Riyadh Taqnia Fund.

Headquartered in the capital, where founder and CEO Gaurav Biswas is from, the company said the majority of its revenue now comes from Saudi clients, and it plans to expand aggressively in the country in the near future.

“We are disrupting a very fragmented industry, both operationally and commercially, by using advanced data science and technology tools,” said Amit Agarwal, TruKKer’s group chief financial officer.

“One of our essential capabilities is the ability to finance instant payments to the small transporters and owner-operators, while offering standard credit terms for enterprise clients.”

PFG’s Managing Director Jason Geogatos said: “TruKKer offers a very interesting proposition for a debt fund to support a diverse and growing portfolio of debtors with a custom facility tailored to enable the company’s rapid expansion.”

He added: “We are very excited about working with the TruKKer team to provide capital to help them scale their impressive platform, harnessing the trend of increasing technological adoption to deliver efficiencies across the massive freight industry across the Middle East.”

TruKKer’s network stretches into the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, with a fleet of over 25,000 trucks and 500 business-to-business customers currently registered on the platform.

In August, Biswas, told Arab News that he has big ambitions in the Kingdom. “Saudi Arabia continues to amaze me with how innovation is accelerating at such a rapid pace. Young Saudis are so ambitious, believe in technology and are keen to deliver,” he said.

“I think an IPO (initial public offering) in the Saudi markets in the next few years would be a delightful outcome for a business like TruKKer.”


Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm
Updated 11 May 2021

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm

Lebanon must fix debts, end prosecutor action or face power cut, says Turkish firm
  • Turkey’s Karadeniz supplies electricity to Lebanon from power barges

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Karadeniz, which supplies electricity to Lebanon from power barges, told Beirut to halt action by the Lebanese prosecutor to seize its vessels and said it must draw up a plan to settle arrears to avoid a cut in supplies, a spokesperson said.
The spokesperson for Karpowership, a unit of Karadeniz that operates floating power plants, was speaking on Tuesday after Lebanon’s Finance Ministry cited a lawmaker saying the country had been threatened with a cut to its supplies.
A Lebanese prosecutor issued a decision last week to seize the barges and fine the firm after TV channel Al-Jadeed reported corruption allegations tied to the power contract. The firm denies the charges and says it has not been paid for 18 months.


Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound
Updated 11 May 2021

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound

Suez Canal boss reveals expansion plans as revenues jump on trade rebound
  • Revenues rose almost 16 percent in April to $551million

RIYADH: Suez Canal revenues rose almost 16 percent in April to $551 million compared to a year earlier, Asharq Business reported, citing Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie.
Rabie also discussed plans to expand and deepen the southern sector of the canal in which the container ship Ever Given was stuck in March, creating chaos across the global supply chain.
That incident which brought a large proportion of seaborne trade to a near halt for a week, highlighted the need to ensure the  smooth operation of the key trade artery.
Rabie also revealed plans for dredging works for the maintenance of the navigational channel of the canal.
A plan is being implemented to restructure the authority’s companies, he said.
This year witnessed a slight increase in the number of ships passing through the waterway to 1,840 in April 2021 from 1,731 in April 2020, Al Arabiya reported.


Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
Updated 11 May 2021

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave

Egypt jobless rate rises amid pandemic second wave
  • The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter

RIYADH: Egypt’s unemployment rate reached 7.4 percent of the total labor force in the first quarter of 2021 — up from 7.2 percent in the previous quarter.
The new data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), reflects the impact of the second wave of the pandemic.
The size of the workforce was estimated at 29,284 million, compared to 29,965 million during the previous quarter, representing a decrease of 2.3 percent, Al Arabiya reported.
The labor force in urban areas reached 13,034 million, with 16,250 million living in rural areas.
Gehan Saleh, economic affairs adviser to Egypt’s prime minister said in April that the second stage of the country’s economic reform program would be launched soon.
She said the plan aims to improve the quality of life of citizens and tackle unemployment through job-creating investments.


Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang
Updated 11 May 2021

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang

Smugglers post gold from Dubai to India hidden in Tang
  • It is the latest ruse by smugglers trying to avoid hefty import duties for the precious metal by employing increasingly intriguing methods

DUBAI: Indian customs have foiled an attempt to post gold from Dubai disguised in containers of the popular Tang drink.

After sieving the contents of the drink mix, Chennai customs officials discovered it had been mixed with gold granules, according to a statement from the Commissioner of Customs at Chennai International Airport.
Officials probing the racket found that the address of the receiver had been misused.
It is the latest ruse by smugglers trying to avoid hefty import duties for the precious metal by employing increasingly intriguing methods.
Earlier this year officials at Chennai airport also nabbed two men trying to smuggle gold through the airport underneath their wigs.
The hapless pair were nabbed after their unusual hairstyles caught the attention of officials.

They were found to be carrying two gold paste packets weighing almost 700 g


UK-based tower operator to acquire Omantel sites in $575m deal

UK-based tower operator to acquire Omantel sites in $575m deal
Updated 11 May 2021

UK-based tower operator to acquire Omantel sites in $575m deal

UK-based tower operator to acquire Omantel sites in $575m deal
  • The move signals Helios Towers’ entry to the Middle East market as a major tower infrastructure provider

DUBAI: British telecommunications company Helios Towers has signed a deal with Omantel to acquire 2,890 sites for $575 million from the sultanate’s largest mobile network operator.
The move signals Helios Towers’ entry to the Middle East market as a major tower infrastructure provider.
The deal is expected to bring in a $59 million bump in revenues in the first full year of operations.
It also involves a $35 million plan to add 300 new build-to-suit sites over the next seven years.
“We view Oman as a very attractive and supportive market for foreign investments, with strong growth and exciting future prospects,” the UK-based company’s chief Kash Pandya said in a statement.
He said the acquisition strengthens its business through “further hard-currency revenues and diversification” in what the CEO described as the fastest growing markets in the region.
“We look forward to working with Omantel and the other MNOs over the coming years to further develop next generation mobile infrastructure solutions and services in Oman,” he added.
The partnership reflects Oman’s FDI aspirations, Omantel CEO Tala Said Al-Mamari said, adding it will create jobs and opportunities in the country.
“This move also allows the monetization of our towers at attractive valuation levels, de-lever our balance sheet, and will accelerate network development in next generation advanced technologies,” he noted.
He said it would allow Omantel’s management to focus on innovation and product development while outsourcing infrastructure management to an independent firm.
The transaction will close by the end of 2021, and the long-term partnership will last for an initial period of 15 years.