Saudi Arabia’s Unifonic focuses on profitability, IPO after Softbank, PIF deal — CEO

Saudi Arabia’s Unifonic focuses on profitability, IPO after Softbank, PIF deal — CEO
Ahmed Hamdan and Hassan Hamdan co-founded Unifonic in 2006. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 September 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Unifonic focuses on profitability, IPO after Softbank, PIF deal — CEO

Saudi Arabia’s Unifonic focuses on profitability, IPO after Softbank, PIF deal — CEO
  • Unifonic plans to enter new markets, including Pakistan and Nigeria
  • CEO expects company to double in size every two years

RIYADH: Unifonic, the first Saudi startup to receive investment from SoftBank, would like to become profitable before listing its shares on a stock market, CEO Ahmed Hamdan said on Thursday.

“Over the next six months, we will have a bigger vision regarding the offering,” he said in an interview with Al Arabiya. The main criterion is to maximize the company’s profitability and the appropriate market in terms of the quality of the products we offer, and the appetite of investors in the public markets, he said without specifying which market Unifonic might list on.

Unifonic, which currently has offices in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and Pakistan, plans to expand its customer engagement offering into new markets in the Middle East and Africa, including Nigeria, over the coming five years, he said.

Japan’s SoftBank and Sanabil Investments, a unit of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, led a $125 million Series B funding round for Unifonic, it said in an announcement this week.

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SoftBank’s $30 billion Vision Fund 2 made its first investment in a UAE-based company in July when it led a $415 million Series C round in cloud kitchen Kitopi, pushing its valuation above the $1 billion mark that makes it a unicorn.

The investment will help Unifonic grow, according to Hamdan, who said the company plans to hire more than 1,000 employees to develop its expertise in cloud, artificial intelligence and data.

Since 2018, the company’s shareholders have doubled the value of their investments, among the best returns in venture capital, he said. It has quadrupled sales in the past three years, and the company will continue to achieve high growth rates, which requires capital injections from time to time, he said.

“We expect this rate of growth to continue during the next three years, with the volume of business doubling every two years,” he said.

Growth will be through direct investment or acquisition, Hamdan said.


Potential $100 per barrel oil price is unlikely to be sustainable: Jadwa

Potential $100 per barrel oil price is unlikely to be sustainable: Jadwa
Updated 19 sec ago

Potential $100 per barrel oil price is unlikely to be sustainable: Jadwa

Potential $100 per barrel oil price is unlikely to be sustainable: Jadwa

Riyadh: Oil prices could surge to $100 per barrel but only for a brief period, according to Saudi-based capital market company Jadwa.

The firm’s quarterly oil market report said the rise was conditional on an acceleration in gas-to-liquid substitution during the winter months, combined with any unforeseen outages in oil production.

However, this soaring level of prices is unlikely to persist, if it does indeed hit $100, Jadwa said.

The high level of prices would possibly drive OPEC+ to increase production over the current stated levels to stabilize the markets. Moreover, OPEC expects a decrease in global oil demand in the first quarter of 2022. Both of these developments will diminish the possibility of oil prices remaining at $100 pb in the short term, Jadwa explained.

Jadwa kept their expectation for 2022 Brent oil at $65 pb. Meanwhile, they stated that there is an increasing risk on their full-year 2021 Brent oil forecast of $67 pb.


Tadawul aims to offer incentives for tech startup firms: Bloomberg

Tadawul aims to offer incentives for tech startup firms: Bloomberg
Updated 7 min 22 sec ago

Tadawul aims to offer incentives for tech startup firms: Bloomberg

Tadawul aims to offer incentives for tech startup firms: Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange is discussing introducing incentives for tech startups backed by venture capital investors and technology firms, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.

The stock exchange’s smaller market, Nomu, is where the small tech firms are expected to raise capital.

Currently, Tadawul doesn’t provide incentives to list on Nomu, but it could offer regulatory waivers for tech startups to speed up their listing, according to Bloomberg.

In the UAE, tech-startups received considerable financing solutions.

In interviews with CNBC Arabia, Ammar Al Malik said that facilities received by tech startups in Dubai Internet City reached AED1.4 billion ($380 million) while Jida Itani, COO of Abu Dhabi-based Hub71, stated that the firm provided over $260 million to startup companies.

Having the diversification of the economy as its target, the Kingdom aims at attracting tech investments as efforts to create more jobs in the labor market gain pace.


Islamic Development Bank announces its final issuances

Islamic Development Bank announces its final issuances
Updated 50 min 7 sec ago

Islamic Development Bank announces its final issuances

Islamic Development Bank announces its final issuances

RIYADH: The Islamic Development Bank of Saudi Arabia has announced the price of its second and final issuances as part of its plan to mobilize financial resources.

The Saudi Press Agency reported the final price of issuance instruments by the bank was SR6.3 billion ($1.7 billion), due to five years of annual returns by 1.435 percent, as a part of the bank medium-term instruments program of SR93.7 billion ($25 billion).

The President of the Islamic Development Bank, Muhammed Sulaiman Al-Jassar, said he wanted to "thank investors" for trusting the institution during the recovery from the pandemic.


Private equity giants Blackrock and Blackstone will attend FII5: CEO

Private equity giants Blackrock and Blackstone will attend FII5: CEO
Updated 53 min 38 sec ago

Private equity giants Blackrock and Blackstone will attend FII5: CEO

Private equity giants Blackrock and Blackstone will attend FII5: CEO

Blackrock and Blackstone, two of the world’s leading private investment management companies, will be attending the fifth anniversary of the Future Investment Initiative (FII), the foundation’s chief executive officer said in a press conference on Thursday.

Richard Attias, IFF’s CEO, also added that Africa will occupy a big place in the event, with presidents of Rwanda and Gabon attending, as well as several African speakers and leaders.

The head of the organization indicated that out of the 5200 participants registered for FII5, 70 percent are from Europe and North America.

Chinese attendees will be small in number because of the 3-week mandatory quarantine, but about 50 speakers from the country will be contributing, he added.


Goldman Sachs, Freshfields working on possible Porsche IPO: Manager magazin

Goldman Sachs, Freshfields working on possible Porsche IPO: Manager magazin
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Updated 21 October 2021

Goldman Sachs, Freshfields working on possible Porsche IPO: Manager magazin

Goldman Sachs, Freshfields working on possible Porsche IPO: Manager magazin
  • Goldman and Freshfields both declined to comment.

 Investment bank Goldman Sachs and law firm Freshfields are among advisors working on a possible listing of Volkswagen's luxury unit Porsche AG, manager magazin reported on Thursday, without saying where it obtained the information.


Goldman and Freshfields both declined to comment. Volkswagen had no immediate comment.

People familiar with the matter had told Reuters in May that the Porsche and Piech families, who control largest shareholder Porsche SE, are prepared to take a direct stake in Porsche AG should the luxury carmaker be separately listed.


Asked about the idea of a Porsche listing, talk of which has surfaced regularly in recent years, Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess in July said that while the company continued to review its set-up its battery ramp-up was the priority.