Startup of the Week: Saudi-based TruKKer plans global expansion

Startup of the Week: Saudi-based TruKKer plans global expansion
TruKKer operates in eight countries with a fleet of over 40,000 trucks integrating demand and supply for land freight services based on real-time data analytics. (AFP)
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Updated 17 April 2022

Startup of the Week: Saudi-based TruKKer plans global expansion

Startup of the Week: Saudi-based TruKKer plans global expansion
  • The freight network raises a Series B fund worth $96 million

RIYADH: TruKKer, a Saudi-based startup offering logistics in the land freight sector, plans to strengthen its operation in the region while expanding into new geographies after raising a Series B fund worth $96 million recently. 

“Our immediate goal is to drive growth in current markets as well as expand into Commonwealth of Independent States and Europe countries,” TruKKer Chief Financial Officer Amit Agarwal told Arab News in an exclusive interview.

Founded in 2016, TruKKer currently operates in eight countries with a fleet of over 40,000 trucks integrating demand and supply for land freight services based on real-time data analytics. 




TruKKer currently operates in eight countries with a fleet of over 40,000 trucks integrating demand and supply for land freight services based on real-time data analytics. (Reuters/File)

“We harbor very ambitious plans to become the No. 1 digital land aggregator in the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa region,” he said.

Revenue model

TruKKer uses a digital freight aggregation business model to match supply and demand. It receives the truck demand from clients and then uses a predictive analytics matching system to source available trucks from fleet owners and individual truck owners.

“The spread between our buy (cost paid to the vendor) and sell (invoice amount to clients) represents TruKKer’s margin on a unit trip basis,” Agarwal explained.

He added that TruKKer’s innovation revolves around humancentric problem solving with around 400 members currently working in its team.

Agarwal pointed out that the industry is a large dynamic market governed by strong cross-border trade between Gulf Cooperation Council countries as well as Europe and Asia, and a large landmass with a high population and industrial hubs.

“Trucking, despite being one of the largest employing industries, suffers from huge fragmentation: Lack of standardization in business processes, weak technology adoption, and a fractured set of financial processes that have worked in concert for years,” Agarwal added.

TruKKer’s competition includes other companies that offer a digital freight connecting platform like Egypt-based Trella and UAE-based Trukkin.

Saudi market

TruKKer is betting big on its “home turf” Saudi market as the company expects the Kingdom’s “evolving and forward-looking” regulatory environment in terms of its land transportation space and its Transport General Authority to drive growth.

Agarwal said that the Kingdom acts as a “strategic market” for TruKKer and “one of the key pillars” contributing to the company’s growth. 

Our immediate goal is to drive growth in current markets as well as expand into Commonwealth of Independent States and Europe countries.

Amit Agarwal, TruKKer chief financial officer

“In fact, we very much perceive Saudi as TruKKer’s home turf with our principal investors hailing from the Kingdom. Further, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 aims to establish the Kingdom as a leading logistics hub in the region,” he said.

The company has been engaging with the stakeholders in the ministries and key government institutions. “We can proudly say that we have been receiving positive support from these stakeholders,” Agarwal said. “They have been very welcoming and recognizing our efforts and passion in infusing greater efficiency and value creation in the land freight ecosystem.”

He revealed that TruKKer is due to be recognized by the TGA as a trucking aggregator. Aggarwal added: “We anticipate similar support from other regulatory authorities in the Kingdom that would help us grow further as a digital land freight provider and expand into multiple service verticals.

“These are indeed exciting times in the Kingdom and TruKKer is privileged to cater to the logistics needs of a diversified portfolio of clients with its ever-expanding service offerings.”

Fundraising

The freight industry has been on the rise for the past couple of years, ranking as the highest-funded industry in Egypt in 2021.

TruKKer raised $1.4 million in a seed round in December 2017, followed by $23 million in a Series A round in November 2019, before raising the highest round in the Middle East and North Africa amounting to $96 million in a Series B in February 2022.

The digital freight platform has so far raised over $100 million in a mix of equity and debt funding since its launch in 2016.


Saudi Arabian Mining Co. emerges as TASI’s 5th-best performer

Saudi Arabian Mining Co. emerges as TASI’s 5th-best performer
Updated 10 August 2022

Saudi Arabian Mining Co. emerges as TASI’s 5th-best performer

Saudi Arabian Mining Co. emerges as TASI’s 5th-best performer
  • Analysts expect Ma’aden to maintain its solid performance throughout 2022, owing to its expansion plans

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Mining Co., known as Ma’aden, ranked fifth among the top share price gainers this year on the Saudi stock index TASI buoyed by strong results and a thriving mineral sector.

Ma’aden’s share price in 2022 opened at SR39.25 ($10.5) and climbed to SR59 on Aug. 4, surging 53 percent.

A booming mineral industry fueled this rise in Saudi Arabia as, in recent years, the Kingdom has shifted its focus toward discovering and extracting minerals and metals to support its mining industry.

“There is over $3-trillion worth of minerals to be exploited in the Kingdom, which opens huge opportunities for minerals companies,” said Peter Leon, a partner in Johannesburg-based law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

Leon advised the Kingdom’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources on drafting its new mining law.

Khalid Almudaifer, vice minister of MIMR, told Arab News that the ministry had established the mining sector’s infrastructure, allowing the Kingdom to leapfrog in both mining and sustainable mining.

FASTFACTS

• The company’s share price in 2022 opened at SR39.25 ($10.5) and climbed to SR59 on Aug. 4, surging 53 percent.

• Ma’aden reported a 185 percent surge in profit during the first quarter of 2022, hitting SR2.17 billion.

• The mining company has a market capitalization of over SR100 billion.

As the Kingdom revealed that it could be sitting on untapped mineral deposits worth $1.3 trillion, Almudaifer added that the $1.3 trillion estimate of untapped minerals is only a starting point and that underground minerals are likely worth even more.

In March, the state-owned firm announced its plans to increase production capacity and invest in exploration to tap into $1.3 trillion mineral reserves, a reason economist Ali Alhazmi believes that made Ma’aden shares lucrative, further leading to high performance.

Speaking to Arab News, Alhazmi explained that one of the reasons could be attributed to Ma’aden turning into probability last year, reaching SR5.2 billion, compared to SR280 million in losses in 2020.

The other reason could relate to its plan to double its capital by distributing three shares to shareholders, which has attracted investors to buy Ma’aden shares.

According to Abdullah AlRebdi, CEO of Rassanah Capital, the beginning of the third line of its ammonia production also helped the company’s fortune, especially when there was a considerable shortage of raw material for fertilizer. It is worth mentioning that the ammonia plant expansion is set to add over 1 million tons of ammonia production to reach 3.3 million tons, making Ma’aden one of the largest ammonia producers east of the Suez Canal.

Ma’aden reported a 185 percent surge in profit during the first quarter of 2022, hitting SR2.17 billion, amid a jump in commodity prices.

Analysts expect Ma’aden to maintain its solid performance throughout 2022, owing to its expansion plans and gold mining projects in Mansoura and Masarrah.

“By the end of 2022, Ma’aden will achieve SR9 billion in profit, a growth of 50 percent from 2021,” Alhazmi predicted.

As one of the fastest-growing mining companies worldwide, Ma’aden has a market capitalization of over SR100 billion and is one of the Kingdom’s 10 most prominent players.


Oil up, rebounds on renewed gasoline demand, weak dollar

Oil up, rebounds on renewed gasoline demand, weak dollar
Updated 10 August 2022

Oil up, rebounds on renewed gasoline demand, weak dollar

Oil up, rebounds on renewed gasoline demand, weak dollar
  • US crude inventories up more than 5 million barrels
  • Transneft restarts oil flows via Druzhba

NEW YORK: Oil prices rose on Wednesday, rebounding from losses early in the session on lift from encouraging figures on US gasoline demand and as a lower-than-expected US inflation figure drove investors into riskier assets.

Brent crude futures rose 68 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $96.99 a barrel as of 12:46 p.m. EST (1746 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate crude futures gained 83 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $91.33.

US stocks

US crude oil stocks rose by 5.5 million barrels in the most recent week, the US Energy Information Administration said, more than the expected increase of 73,000 barrels. However, US gasoline stocks fell sharply as implied demand rose after weeks of lackluster activity during what is supposed to be peak summer driving season.

“Everyone has been very much focused on potential demand destruction, so seeing implied demand showing an outsized rebound for last week has probably given some comfort to those really concerned about that,” said Matt Smith, lead oil analyst, Americas, for Kpler.

Gasoline product supplied rose in the most recent week to 9.1 million bpd, though that figure still shows demand down 6 percent over the past four weeks compared with the year-ago period.

US oil refiners and pipeline operators expect strong energy consumption for the second half of 2022, a Reuters review of company earnings calls showed.

US consumer prices were unchanged in July due to a sharp drop in the cost of gasoline, delivering the first notable sign of relief for Americans who have watched inflation climb over the past two years.

That contributed to a rise in risk assets including equities, while the US dollar fell more than 1 percent against a basket of currencies. With most worldwide oil sales transacted in dollars, a weakening greenback is supportive for oil. However, crude's gains were modest.

Druzhba pipeline

The market earlier slipped as flows on the Russia-to-Europe Druzhba pipeline resumed, alleviating fears of another squeeze on world energy supply by Moscow.

Russian state oil pipeline monopoly Transneft restarted oil flows via the southern leg of the Druzhba oil pipeline, RIA news agency said.

Ukraine had suspended Russian oil pipeline flows to parts of central Europe since early this month because Western sanctions prevented it from receiving transit fees from Moscow, Transneft said on Tuesday.


Insilico raises $35m in Series-D round led by Aramco-backed Prosperity7 Ventures

Insilico raises $35m in Series-D round led by Aramco-backed Prosperity7 Ventures
Updated 10 August 2022

Insilico raises $35m in Series-D round led by Aramco-backed Prosperity7 Ventures

Insilico raises $35m in Series-D round led by Aramco-backed Prosperity7 Ventures

RIYADH: US-based Insilico Medicine has raised an additional $35 million in a Series D funding round led by Aramco-backed Prosperity7 Ventures.

According to FierceBiotech, with this new round the total Series D financing has reached $95 million.

The funds will allow the company to expand its artificial intelligence platform into other areas such as sustainable chemistry, green energy and agriculture.

The financing brought in Prosperity7 Ventures as a new investor.


Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 

Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 
Updated 10 August 2022

Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 

Emirates airline invests over $2bn to boost customer experience 

RIYADH: Dubai-based Emirates airline is investing over $2 billion to boost its inflight customer experience, according to a statement. 

The investment includes a program to retrofit over 120 aircraft with the latest interiors, in addition to an array of other service improvements across all cabins starting in 2022.

“While others respond to industry pressures with cost cuts, Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver ever better experiences to our customers,” President Tim Clark said.

“Through the pandemic we’ve continued to launch new services and initiatives to ensure our customers travel with the assurance and ease, including digital initiatives to improve customer experiences on the ground,” he added. 

The airline’s latest initiatives include upgraded meal choices, new vegan menu, a “cinema in the sky” experience, cabin interior upgrades and sustainable choices. 


EU ban on Russian coal enters into force

EU ban on Russian coal enters into force
Updated 10 August 2022

EU ban on Russian coal enters into force

EU ban on Russian coal enters into force

BRUSSELS: The EU’s total ban on coal imports from Russia comes into force from midnight Wednesday, at a time the bloc is grappling with soaring energy costs following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Leaders of the EU’s 27 countries agreed the embargo in April in their first move targeting Russia’s key energy exports over its war on its pro-Western neighbor.

The measure was subject to a 120-day grace period before full implementation, to allow pre-existing contracts to be fulfilled.

The EU up to last year imported some 45 percent of its coal — worth an estimated €4 billion ($4.1 billion) — from Russia.

Overall, the bloc slashed its consumption of the polluting fossil fuel from 1.2 billion tons to 427 million tonnes between 1990 and 2020 as it pushed to hit climate goals.

But the closure of many mines across the continent led to an increase in Europe’s dependence on imports.

Some countries including Germany and Poland that used it to produce electricity were particularly reliant on Moscow.

In the face of cuts to Russian gas deliveries in recent months, EU members such as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Italy have stepped up their use of coal-fired power plants.

Adding to the energy crunch, an EU plan to cut natural gas use by 15 percent in the face of rocketing prices came into force earlier this week.

During the first five months of 2022, the amount of electricity Germany produces from coal rose by 20 percent, according to energy analyst Rystad.

The embargo on Russia has pushed the EU to step up imports from other sources, including the US, Australia, South Africa and Indonesia.

But ending imports of Russian coal has already proved complicated for traditional mining nation Poland, which imported roughly 10 million tons from Moscow each year.

Its government imposed a total ban on Russian coal imports in mid-April, causing severe shortages and a surge in prices.

The cost of a ton of coal in Poland rose around fourfold from a year ago, leading to protests from the three million Poles still using it to heat their homes.