Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm boosts investment in drone operator

Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm boosts investment in drone operator
The firm, based at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), north of Jeddah, offers a range of drone services. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 June 2021

Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm boosts investment in drone operator

Aramco’s entrepreneurship arm boosts investment in drone operator
  • Wa’ed’s first investment in FalconViz came in 2016, and the new funding will help the company grow in Europe, the US, and Africa

RIYADH: The entrepreneurship arm of Saudi Aramco has invested a further $500,000 in a Saudi drone operator to help scale its operations to expand overseas, it was announced on Wednesday.

Wa’ed’s first investment in FalconViz came in 2016, and the new funding will help the company grow in Europe, the US, and Africa.

The firm, based at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), north of Jeddah, offers a range of drone services, including 3-D surveying and mapping, inspections, construction monitoring, and data visualization.

Its drones have multiple uses including for land surveying, mining, urban development, and cultural heritage assessments. FalconViz’s clients include BCG, HSBC, Neom, and the Saudi Ministry of Culture. Its drones were also used by the city of Jeddah to survey 250,000 square meters of the historic Al-Balad Old Town neighborhood to support the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site application.

Mohamed Shalaby, FalconViz’s co-founder and vice president of business development, said the Wa’ed investment was “a welcome injection of funds and confidence in our offerings and business strategy. This will enable us to keep investing in our people, growing our services, and expanding our global presence across different sectors.”

Salman T. Jaffrey, the chief investment officer of Wa’ed Ventures, the venture capital arm of Wa’ed, said: “It’s great to see FalconViz flying high. To me, it’s gratifying to see one of our earliest venture capital investments commercialize its research technologies and grow globally.”

Wassim Basrawi, managing director at Wa’ed, said: “FalconViz is a perfect example of a Saudi startup identifying and filling a market gap by delivering innovative services.”

Founded in 2014, FalconViz currently has 24 employees and is licensed by the General Authority of Civil Aviation. Wa’ed was established by Saudi Aramco in 2011 to offer loan financing activities to entrepreneurs, while its Wa’ed Ventures VC arm oversees a $200 million investment fund and a portfolio of more than 30 Saudi-based companies.

In April, Wa’ed signed a collaboration agreement with the Falak Investment Hub to help drive venture capital investment in the Kingdom. Falak is a hybrid firm between a startup accelerator, co-working space, angel network, and an investment company targeting regional tech startups focusing on Saudi Arabia.

Founded in 2018 by female entrepreneur Adwa Al-Dakheel, Falak’s portfolio of startups has generated combined revenues of more than SR550 million ($146.67 million). Both organizations aim to exploit synergies to improve early stage and growth stage startups’ chances of success through support with training programs, market access, and mentorship.

Wa’ed also signed a memorandum of understanding in March with the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu to support the creation of new startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Saudi Arabia’s two largest industrial cities.

Dhahran-based Wa’ed announced in January that it had tripled the amount of money loaned to startups in the Kingdom last year. It gave out 12 loans to SMEs, up from four in 2019, with the total value surging to SR31 million, compared to SR10 million in 2019.

“In a very challenging year, I am proud of the Wa’ed family, which includes my team and our resilient entrepreneurs, for rising to the challenges and keeping us on track to deliver an even greater impact in 2021,” Basrawi added.


SIIG to takeover Petrochem shares in a potential merger

SIIG to takeover Petrochem shares in a potential merger
Updated 28 September 2021

SIIG to takeover Petrochem shares in a potential merger

SIIG to takeover Petrochem shares in a potential merger
  • Under the deal, SIIG would pay Petrochem’s shareholders by issuing new shares in SIIG

DUBAI: Two Saudi petrochemical companies have signed a non-binding agreement on a proposed merger, the pair said in separate Tadawul filings.

Saudi Industrial Investment Group (SIIG) offered a share exchange deal to acquire the remaining 50 percent of the National Petrochemical Company (Petrochem). 

Under the deal, SIIG would pay Petrochem’s shareholders by issuing new shares in SIIG. They will also receive 1.27 shares in SIIG in exchange for each share they owned in Petrochem. 

HSBC Saudi Arabia is working with SIIG on the deal, while Petrochem hired GIB capital. 

Talks of merger began last year, after Aramco, the biggest oil company in the world, acquired a 70 percent stake in Saudi Basic Industries. 


Payment solutions Zbooni secures $9.5m as e-commerce booms

Payment solutions Zbooni secures $9.5m as e-commerce booms
Updated 28 September 2021

Payment solutions Zbooni secures $9.5m as e-commerce booms

Payment solutions Zbooni secures $9.5m as e-commerce booms
  • The company, it said in a statement, is seeing strong traction on its mobile seller app and web-based tools

DUBAI: Payment solutions provider Zbooni has secured $9.5 million in its latest funding round, on the back of the region’s growing e-commerce scene.

Several regional and international investors participated in the Series A round, including family office March Holding, US-based Enterprise Fund, as well as a few European private investors.

The UAE-based startup provides digital tools for businesses to engage with their customers - including an online invoining function, and other mobile-based applications. 

“Our solutions help businesses seamlessly transition into a new era of commerce, offering more relevant ways to sell and interact with customers,” Ramy Assaf, Zbooni founder, said. =

The company, it said in a statement, is seeing strong traction on its mobile seller app and web-based tools. 

Zbooni will use the funds to further develop its proprietary commerce technology, as well as hire new talent and expand into new markets. 

“We see a massive opportunity in front of us and are excited about helping define the next generation of commerce,” Assaf said.


‘solutions by stc’ sets minimum of 2 shares per individual investor in IPO

‘solutions by stc’ sets minimum of 2 shares per individual investor in IPO
Updated 28 September 2021

‘solutions by stc’ sets minimum of 2 shares per individual investor in IPO

‘solutions by stc’ sets minimum of 2 shares per individual investor in IPO
  • Around 1.04 million retail investors subscribed to 2.4 million shares at SR151 per share - an offering oversubscribed by 2,365 percent

DUBAI: ‘Solutions by stc’ has allocated a minimum of two shares per individual subscriber as it completes its initial public offering. 

The ‘stc’ unit earlier announced its intention to float on the Saudi bourse, offering 24 million shares or 20 percent of its capital.

According to a filing on Monday, remaining shares will be allocated on a pro rata basis at around 0.5776 percent on average, based on the size of each subscriber’s request compared to the total remaining subscribed shares. 

Around 1.04 million retail investors subscribed to 2.4 million shares at SR151 per share - an offering oversubscribed by 2,365 percent. 

The institutional offering was 13,0004 percent oversubscribed, raising SR471 billion. 


Qatar Airways says gets $3bn state aid after huge loss

Qatar Airways says gets $3bn state aid after huge loss
Updated 28 September 2021

Qatar Airways says gets $3bn state aid after huge loss

Qatar Airways says gets $3bn state aid after huge loss
  • The airline reported an overall loss of $4.1 billion for the year to March 31

DOHA: Qatar Airways said Monday it received $3 billion in state aid to weather the coronavirus travel downturn and to offset losses it blamed on the cost of grounding aircraft.
The airline reported an overall loss of $4.1 billion for the year to March 31, double the figure for the same period the year before.
Without the cost of grounding its Airbus A380 and A330 aircraft, Qatar Airways reported an underlying operating loss for the year of $228.3 million compared with $310 million the previous year.
The Gulf carrier did report a slight uptick in overall earnings and a 4.6 percent increase in the amount of cargo carried in the last 12-month period.
Qatar is among several governments that have stepped in to support their national carriers through the coronavirus shutdown, which has pummelled global travel and the aviation industry.
In September 2020 the airline reported it had received $2 billion in state aid after its annual losses exceeded 50 percent of share capital.
“We adapted our entire commercial operation to respond to ever-evolving travel restrictions and never stopped flying,” Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al-Baker said in a statement, calling the last 12-month period “difficult.”
“While our organization did not receive any subsidies in the form of salary support or grants, (the Qatari government) did provide an equity injection of 11 billion riyals ($3 billion) to support the business’s continuity.”
Monday’s results are the first full year numbers since the United Arab Emirates, a key market for the Gulf carrier, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, ended a boycott of Qatar in place since June 2017.
They had accused Doha of links to extremist groups and being too close to Iran, Riyadh’s regional arch-rival — charges Qatar denied — closing their airspace, borders and markets to Doha until a deal was struck in January.
Qatar Airways is the second largest airline in the Middle East after Dubai-based Emirates, operating a fleet of 253 aircraft — although some remain grounded during the pandemic.

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UAE food giant Agthia to pay $17.8m in its first interim cash dividends

UAE food giant Agthia to pay $17.8m in its first interim cash dividends
Updated 28 September 2021

UAE food giant Agthia to pay $17.8m in its first interim cash dividends

UAE food giant Agthia to pay $17.8m in its first interim cash dividends
  • The approved dividend distribution marks Agthia Group’s first interim dividend

DUBAI: Agthia Group, a leading food and beverages company in the UAE, approved yesterday to pay a cash dividend of 8.25 fils per share for the first half of 2021, or 65.31 million dirhams, it said in a statement.

The approved dividend distribution marks Agthia Group’s first interim dividend, it said.

"Recently, the Group adopted a semi-annual dividend policy, which aligns with its commitment to maximizing shareholders’ returns," it added.