PIF, STV among backers of $20m funding for Saudi startup Foodics

PIF, STV among backers of $20m funding for Saudi startup Foodics
Ahmad Al-Zaini, Co-Founder and CEO of Foodics. (Supplied)
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Updated 01 February 2021

PIF, STV among backers of $20m funding for Saudi startup Foodics

PIF, STV among backers of $20m funding for Saudi startup Foodics
  • The new investment will enable Foodics to grow in existing markets, and accelerate its international expansion
  • Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Riyadh, Foodics is available throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region

JEDDAH: Saudi technology startup Foodics has successfully raised $20 million in a Series B funding round, with Saudi sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), among the major backers.

The round was led by PIF’s subsidiary Sanabil Investments and Saudi venture capital firm STV. Other investors included Endeavor Catalyst, Elm, and Derayah.

The new investment will enable Foodics to grow in existing markets, accelerate its international expansion, increase its workforce, and expand its financial technology (fintech) offering.

The latest funding round brings the total raised by the company so far to $28 million.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in Riyadh, Foodics is available throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with offices in the UAE and Egypt. Its software is available in English, Arabic, and French, with Spanish in development.

Foodics offers its kitchen display system (KDS), where orders from customers are sent directly to a display screen in the kitchen and staff can then prepare the order and send it out for delivery.

The platform processes around $200 million in transactions per month. It currently works with 24,000 restaurants in the region and has set a target to reach 70,000 by the end of the year.

Ahmad Al-Zaini, co-founder and CEO, said: “We are delighted to start the year on such a high note, having been able to gain the support and trust of such prominent investors. 2020 was a tough year during which we have proactively captured opportunities.”

Foodics markets itself as a supportive, trusted, and strong partner to its community. During the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the company launched instant loans through its micro-loans service Foodics Capital, so that customers could recover operation expenses and losses caused as a result of the global health crisis.

Foodics Capital offered loans of between SR18,750 ($4,998) and SR500,000 to small Saudi food and beverage operators, with approval within seven days.

Foodics was strategically positioned to become the de facto platform to connect digital players with offline retailers, said Ahmad Al-Naimi, partner at STV. The company was also one of only three firms to receive a fintech license from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) in November.

The news comes following a recent report by data research platform Magnitt which said Saudi Arabia accounted for 18 percent of the 496 investment deals made throughout the MENA region last year.

The Kingdom recorded a 35 percent year-on-year increase in the number of investment deals in the technology startup sector in 2020, along with a 55 percent year-on-year surge in the monetary value of deals which reached $152 million.

In an article in October, STV said it had led 30 percent of all venture capital funding in the Kingdom since 2018. It also claimed that, while it had $500 million in capital, its portfolio of companies, including Careem, Trukker, and Tabby had processed transactions worth more than $3.7 billion and had generated revenue of $480 million.


NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill

NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill
Updated 24 min 10 sec ago

NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill

NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill
  • Saudi Arabia is accelerating plans to privatize key infrastructure in an effort to modernize the economy

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia's National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC) is part of a consortium that has bid for a privatized flour mill in the Kingdom.
It has teamed up with OLAM International Limited, Al Rajhi International for Investment and Abdulaziz Alajlan & Sons Company for Commercial and Real Estate Investment, to bid for one of two mills being privatized, the company said in a stock exchange filing.
The two mills are being offered for privatization by the Saudi Grains Organization.
NADEC said  it has agreed a "term sheet" relating to the creation of a limited liability company to acquire the mill should its bid be successful.
The potential acquisition would be financed through a combination of self-financing by the consortium members and borrowing from local banks, it said.
Saudi Arabia is accelerating plans to privatize key infrastructure in an effort to modernize the economy, speed major infrastructure works and develop its financial services sector.


Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020

Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020
Updated 48 min 43 sec ago

Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020

Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020
  • The emirate imported foodstuff worth 34.7 billion dirhams

DUBAI: Dubai’s external food trade reached 52 billion dirhams ($14.2 billion) in 2020, according to government data.
The emirate imported foodstuff worth 34.7 billion dirhams, Dubai Customs manager Nassim Al-Mehairi said, while exports and re-exports were valued at 10 billion dirhams and 7.3 billion dirhams respectively.
Food security is a major issue in the UAE, which has been investing in technology that will reduce its reliance on importing key staples.
Dubai Customs has streamlined its processes to accelerate the clearance of foodstuff shipments to ensure they are delivered to markets on time, especially during Ramadan when consumption is high, Al-Mehairi said.


Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan

Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan
Updated 56 min 1 sec ago

Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan

Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan
  • The Red Sea Development Co.’s SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) loan is set to close with a small group of local banks
  • The proceeds will be used to finance environmentally sustainable investment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is weeks away from clinching the first significant funding package for a key part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s program to diversify the Kingdom’s economy, Bloomberg reported.
The Red Sea Development Co.’s SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) loan is set to close with a small group of local banks including Saudi National Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, Riyad Bank and Saudi British Bank, the newswire reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The deal to help fund the first phase of the development will be a so-called green loan. The proceeds will be used to finance environmentally sustainable investment, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. It will have a tenor of 15 years and an interest rate of about 1 percent above the Saudi interbank offered rate, they said.
The company first started approaching banks for the loan in mid-2019, Bloomberg said.
Opening to tourism is one of the ways Saudi Arabia intends to diversify the economy away from oil. Its other ambitious projects include an entertainment hub near the capital Riyadh, and the new NEOM city in the north-west, which is expected to cost $500 billion to build.
The Red Sea Development, owned by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, will oversee a luxury tourism zone equivalent in size to Belgium. When the entire project is completed in 2030, it will target 1 million visitors a year, split evenly between domestic and international tourists.
Construction of a new international airport for the area has begun, and the first phase of the project is due to be completed with the opening of four hotels at the end of 2022.
12 more hotels will be open the following year, Chief Executive Officer John Pagano said in an interview in November.


IEA issues ‘dire warning’ on CO2 emissions as it predicts 5% rise

IEA issues ‘dire warning’ on CO2 emissions as it predicts 5% rise
Updated 20 April 2021

IEA issues ‘dire warning’ on CO2 emissions as it predicts 5% rise

IEA issues ‘dire warning’ on CO2 emissions as it predicts 5% rise
  • This year’s rise will likely be driven by a resurgence in coal
  • Global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6 percent in 2021

LONDON: Global CO2 emissions from energy are seen rising nearly 5 percent this year, suggesting the economic rebound from COVID-19 could be “anything but sustainable” for the climate, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.
The IEA’s Global Energy Review 2021 predicted carbon dioxide emissions would rise to 33 billion tons this year, up 1.5 billion tons from 2020 levels in the largest single increase in more than a decade.
“This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the COVID crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.
This year’s rise will likely be driven by a resurgence in coal use in the power sector, Birol added, which the report forecast to be particularly strong in Asia.
It should also put pressure on governments to act on climate change. US President Joe Biden will hold a virtual summit for dozens of world leaders this week to discuss the issue ahead of global talks in Scotland later this year. Last year, when power use dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 5.8 percent to 31.5 billion tons, after peaking in 2019 at 33.4 billion tons.
The IEA’s annual review analyzed the latest national data from around the world, economic growth trends and new energy projects that are set to come online.
Global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6 percent in 2021, led by developing economies, pushing it above 2019 levels, the report said.
Demand for all fossil fuels is on course to grow in 2021, with both coal and gas set to rise above 2019 levels.
The expected rise in coal use dwarves that of renewables by almost 60 percent, despite accelerating demand for solar, wind and hydro power. More than 80 percent of the projected growth in coal demand in 2021 is set to come from Asia, led by China.
Coal use in the United States and the European Union is also on course to increase but will remain well below pre-crisis levels, the IEA said.


Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month

Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month
Updated 20 April 2021

Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month

Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month
  • Shipments from UAE and Oman surge
  • Some Iranian barrels believed to have slipped in

BEIJING: China’s crude oil imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia rose 8.8 percent in March from a year earlier, driven by strong demand and as shipments delayed due to a port congestion finally arrived.
Imports from the United Arab Emirates also rose again, up 86 percent, as some Iranian barrels were believed to have slipped in. Shipments from Saudi Arabia were 7.84 million tons, equivalent to 1.85 million barrels per day (bpd), data issued by China’s General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.
That was higher than 1.7 million bpd a year earlier, but below imports of 1.94 million bpd in February. Saudi Arabia retained its position as China’s biggest crude oil supplier for a seventh consecutive month. Ports at China’s oil refining hub Shandong experienced congestion for a few weeks over January and February, slowing oil arrivals. China’s crude oil imports from Russia rose 6 percent in March to 1.75 million bpd from a year ago, but slipped from 1.91 million bpd in February. Analysts from Refinitiv expect arrivals from Saudi Arabia to further drop in April given a voluntary supply cut of 1 million bpd by the producer and increasing prices of Arab light crude for the Asian market.
Appetite of spot oil would turn to more price competitive African sources, with China’s imports from Angola at 0.74 million bpd in March, versus 0.73 mln bpd a month ago. The customs data also showed that crude oil supplies from Kuwait increased to 0.6 million bpd, up 29 percent from a year earlier. China’s imports from the UAE were at 0.71 million bpd last month, up 86 percent on year. Shipments from Oman rose 60 percent from a year ago to 0.86 million bpd.