Tuesday, May 17

Mideast tech investor iMENA plans IPO, hires banks – sources


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DUBAI — Middle East technology investment firm iMENA Group, part owned by Abu Dhabi telecom operator e& , is considering an initial public offering in Abu Dhabi and is working with banks on the deal, two sources told Reuters.

The company invests in online and mobile businesses in the Middle East and North Africa, with firms including Dubai auto marketplace SellAnyCar.com, restaurant reservations app reserveout and online marketplace opensooq.com part of its portfolio.

If it proceeds, it would be the first technology firm investment to offer shares to the public in the United Arab Emirates.

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The company is aiming for a deal to go ahead later this year and has picked First Abu Dhabi Bank, Morgan Stanley and EFG Hermes to advise on the IPO, said the sources, declining to be named as the matter is not public.

iMENA, Morgan Stanley and EFG Hermes declined to comment. First Abu Dhabi Bank and e& did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Discussions are still at an early stage and no final decision has been made, the sources said, adding that the company may decide not to proceed depending on various circumstances.

It is as yet unclear what size stake the company is looking to float, or how much it is hoping to raise.

Start-ups have become encouraged to base themselves in the UAE following a handful of successes by local technology companies, as investors search for potential tech unicorns – privately held start-ups with a valuation of more than $1 billion – in the Middle East.

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Abu Dhabi-headquartered Anghami, a Middle East and North Africa-focused rival to Spotify, became a target for a so-called special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) and listed earlier this year on the Nasdaq exchange in New York.

Careem, a Middle East and Asia ride-hailing app based in Dubai, was acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion in 2020, which was the largest exit for a startup from the region. Amazon in 2017 acquired e-commerce marketplace Souq.com for $580 million.

Gulf issuers have raised $3.5 billion so far this year from IPOs, according to data from Refinitiv, exceeding European flotations even as global markets remain volatile in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Gulf markets are highly correlated to oil prices, where Brent crude is trading above $100 a barrel. Abu Dhabi’s main benchmark is up more than 18% so far this year. (Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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