STV eyes $1 billion for second Middle East tech fund

STV eyes $1 billion for second Middle East tech fund
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Updated 22 October 2021

STV eyes $1 billion for second Middle East tech fund

STV eyes $1 billion for second Middle East tech fund
  • Interest in the technology industry in the Middle East has increased the past few years as governments seek to diversify their energy-dependent economies

RIYADH: STV, the venture capital arm of Saudi Telecom founded by ex-Google executive Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, is looking to raise at least $1 billion for its second Middle East technology investment fund, making it potentially the biggest fund of its kind in the region.

The company, which was formed in 2017, has started talks with other potential backers, including Middle East sovereign wealth funds and international pension funds and endowments, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The people chose to remain anonymous as the details of the fund remain private. STV declined to comment.

Interest in technology has grown significantly with most governments within the region seeking to diversify away from dependency on oil and investors seeking long-term opportunities.

IPOs in the region have also recently taken prominence with Adnoc Drilling coming to the market as the largest IPO on the Abu Dhabi stock market.

STV was an early investor in Careem, which was acquired by Uber in early 2020, and also invested in communications platform Unifonic, which received a $125 million infusion led by SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund 2 in September.

STV took part in 30 percent of all start-up funding rounds in Saudi Arabia and 20 percent in the wider Middle East in recent years, its CEO Abdelrahman Tarabzouni said in June.

Founded in 2017, it invested in 12 funding rounds in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East during the previous nine months, compared with seven rounds during the previous two years, Tarabzouni said.

The venture capital firm, which has a portfolio of $500 million, is considering launching a second fund to invest in the growth of emerging companies and lead advanced rounds in them, he said.

Studies conducted by STV showed that there is an opportunity to create 40 unicorn companies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Saudi Arabia will have the lion’s share of these companies.


Trump’s social media venture says it has raised $1bn

Trump’s social media venture says it has raised $1bn
Truth Social app logo seen on the smartphone and the Follow the fruth on blurred screen behind. New social media platform from Donald Trump.
Updated 6 sec ago

Trump’s social media venture says it has raised $1bn

Trump’s social media venture says it has raised $1bn
  • He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away

Donald Trump’s new social media venture said on Saturday it had entered into agreements to raise about $1 billion from a group of unidentified investors as it prepares to float in the US stock market.


The capital raise, details of which were first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, underscored the former US president’s ability to attract strong financial backing thanks to his personal and political brand.

He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.


Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank-check acquisition firm that will take Trump Media & Technology Group Corp. public by listing it in New York, said it will provide up to $293 million to the partnership with Trump’s media venture, taking the total proceeds to about $1.25 billion.


The $1 billion will be raised through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction from “a diverse group of institutional investors,” Trump Media and Digital World said in a statement.

They did not respond to requests to name the investors.


Trump Media inked its deal with Digital World to go public in October at a valuation of $875 million, including debt.

The social media venture is now valued at almost $4 billion based on the price of Digital World shares at the end of trading on Friday.

Trump supporters and day traders snapped up the stock.


Many Wall Street firms such as mutual funds and private equity firms snubbed the opportunity to invest in the PIPE.

Among those investors who participated were hedge funds, family offices and high net-worth individuals, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Family offices manage the wealth of the very rich and their kin.


Some Wall Street investors are reluctant to associate with Trump. He was banned from top social media platforms after the Jan. 6 attack by his supporters on the US Capitol amid concerns he would inspire further violence.

The Capitol attack was based on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election.


“As our balance sheet expands, Trump Media & Technology Group will be in a stronger position to fight back against the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday.


The deal also faces regulatory risk. US Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler last month to investigate the planned merger for potential violations of securities laws around disclosure.

The SEC has declined to comment on whether it plans any action.


Trump Media and Digital World said the per-share conversion price of the convertible preferred stock PIPE transaction represents a 20 percent discount to Digital World’s volume-weighted average closing price for the five trading days to Dec. 1, when Reuters broke news of the capital raise.


If that price averages below $56 in the 10 days after the merger with Digital World has been completed, the discount will grow to 40 percent with a floor of $10, the companies added.

Digital World shares ended trading on Friday $44.97.


Trump had 89 million followers on Twitter, 33 million on Facebook and 24.5 million on Instagram at the time he was blocked, according to a presentation on his company’s website.


Investors attending the confidential investor road shows were shown a demo from the planned social media app, which looked like a Twitter feed, Reuters reported.

Since Trump was voted out of office last year, he has repeatedly dropped hints that he might seek the presidency in 2024.


Special purpose acquisition companies such as Digital World had lost much of their luster with retail investors before the Trump media deal came along.

Many of these investors were left with big losses after the companies that merged with SPACs failed to deliver on their ambitious financial projections.


TRUTH Social is scheduled for a full rollout in the first quarter of 2022.

It is the first of three stages in the Trump Media plan, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.


In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon.com’s AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.


HyperPay gets regulator approval to boost e-commerce in Saudi Arabia

HyperPay gets regulator approval to boost e-commerce in Saudi Arabia
Updated 11 min 32 sec ago

HyperPay gets regulator approval to boost e-commerce in Saudi Arabia

HyperPay gets regulator approval to boost e-commerce in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Local payment gateway HyperPay has obtained a permit from Saudi Payments to activate new “mada” services for its merchants in Saudi Arabia.

The move will address the growing needs of local e-commerce merchants in the Kingdom, the company said in a statement.

“The Saudi market is witnessing a significant growth in e-commerce, as the value of e-commerce sales via ‘mada’ cards in the Saudi market jumped during the third quarter of this year by 89 percent on an annual basis,” Muhannad Ebwini, chief executive officer at HyperPay, said.

HyperPay claims it will make payments easier and more secure and offers pre-saving customer card details, and other billing services.

The payment gateway currently has over 2,000 Saudi merchants on board its platform, and it aims to expand across the Kingdom. 


Indian salesmen threaten supply disruptions in protest against Reliance

Indian salesmen threaten supply disruptions in protest against Reliance
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 05 December 2021

Indian salesmen threaten supply disruptions in protest against Reliance

Indian salesmen threaten supply disruptions in protest against Reliance

India’s household goods salesmen have threatened to disrupt supplies to mom-and-pop stores if consumer companies provide products at lower prices to Reliance Industries, according to a letter seen by Reuters.


Reuters reported last month Indian salesmen representing companies such as Reckitt Benckiser , Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive said their sales had dropped 20-25 percent in the last year as mom-and-pop stores were increasingly partnering with Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance.


Ambani’s deeply discounted offerings were prompting more stores to order digitally from his JioMart Partner app, posing an existential threat to more than 450,000 company salesmen who for decades served every corner of the vast nation by going store-to-store to take orders.


Citing the Reuters story, the All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation — which has 400,000 members — has written to consumer companies demanding a level playing field, saying they must get products at same prices like other big corporate distributors such as Reliance.


If the pricing-parity demand is not met, the group said in its letter, its salesmen will stop distribution of products to mom-and-pop stores, and will also not supply newly launched consumer goods if such partnerships continue beyond Jan 1.


“We have earned reputation and goodwill among our retailers by giving them good service for many years ... We have decided to call a ‘Non-cooperation’ movement,” said the letter.


The group’s president, Dhairyashil Patil, said the letter was sent to Reckitt, Hindustan Unilever, Colgate and 20 other consumer goods companies.


None of the three consumer companies, as well as Reliance, responded to requests for comment.


Mom-and-pop stores, or “kiranas,” account for 80 percent of a near-$900 billion retail market in India.

About 300,000 such stores in 150 cities order goods from Reliance, with the company setting a target of 10 million partner stores by 2024.


Traditional distributors have told Reuters they have been forced to cut vehicle fleet and staff as their business has been suffering because they can’t match Reliance’s pricing.


Jefferies in March estimated kiranas will “steadily increase the share of procurement” from Reliance “at the cost of traditional distributors.”

Such sales for Reliance could mushroom to $10.4 billion by 2025 from just $200 million in 2021-22, Jefferies estimates.


Saudi Space Commission signs agreement with French counterpart 

Saudi Space Commission signs agreement with French counterpart 
Updated 05 December 2021

Saudi Space Commission signs agreement with French counterpart 

Saudi Space Commission signs agreement with French counterpart 
  • The agreement outlines different cooperative activities between the two firms, the Saudi firm said in a statement

RIYADH: The Saudi Space Commission has signed a cooperative agreement with its French counterpart, National Center for Space Studies, in the field of the peaceful use of outer space.

The agreement outlines different cooperative activities between the two firms, the Saudi firm said in a statement. It comes amid French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit in Saudi Arabia. 

It provides a framework for cooperation in space activities, including exchanging information and technologies, capacity building, organizing mutual visits and meetings, holding workshops and training courses. 

Both firms will also develop a mechanism for space-based climate monitoring, and create an attractive environment for investments in the sector. 

Mohammed Al-Tamaimi, CEO of the Saudi Space Commission, said he is pleased to sign the cooperation agreement, as well as to benefit from the French experience in the space sector.


Saudi Chemical, Sanofi sign deal to localize manufacturing of thrombosis drug 

Saudi Chemical, Sanofi sign deal to localize manufacturing of thrombosis drug 
Updated 05 December 2021

Saudi Chemical, Sanofi sign deal to localize manufacturing of thrombosis drug 

Saudi Chemical, Sanofi sign deal to localize manufacturing of thrombosis drug 
  • Clexane is a therapeutic solution that prevents and treats thrombosis

DUBAI: The Saudi Chemical Company Holding has signed an initial agreement with French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi to explore manufacturing Clexane in Saudi Arabia. 

Clexane is a therapeutic solution that prevents and treats thrombosis, which may also “affect a significant percentage of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms,” the Saudi firm said in a bourse filing. 

Thrombosis is the formation of blood clot within a blood vessel which can lead to life-threatening complications such as stroke and heart attack. 

The MoU outlines Aja Pharma’s, a unit of SCCH, role to provide manufacturing facilities and systems to produce Clexane prefilled syringes in the Kingdom.

The move comes amid France’s President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit in the Kingdom, where a number of deals between Saudi and French companies were signed. 

The agreement is also in line with the Kingdom’s push to localize critical industries, and drive economic growth with more local content.