Dubai's Swvl begins trading on Nasdaq

Mass transit company is planning to expand to several countries over the next six months, including Colombia, Peru, Mexico, South Africa and the US

Swvl chief executive Mostafa Kandil and chief financial officer Youssef Salem celebrate as Swvl makes its Nasdaq debut on Thursday. Photo: Swvl
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Swvl — the Cairo-born, Dubai-based mass transit and shared mobility services provider valued at $1.5 billion — began trading on the Nasdaq in the US on Thursday.

Swvl co-founder and chief executive Mostafa Kandil rang the opening bell at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City's Times Square to mark the occasion.

“It was quite incredible,” Youssef Salem, Swvl’s chief financial officer, told The National. “Everyone was just so incredibly excited.”

Trading opened at 9.30am EST with shares starting at $9.95 per share. They were trading at $9.33 at 3.10pm EST.

The listing follows approval of a merger with special purpose acquisition company (Spac) Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital, the first blank-cheque company led entirely by women, at a shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday.

The planned merger was announced in July last year. Swvl is the second Arab technology company to be listed on Nasdaq after music streaming platform Anghami, which was also floated through a Spac in February.

“The key thing for us is that we're the first tech-enabled mass transit player to list on any exchange globally — so not just the first out of the Middle East, we're the first out of the entire world,” Mr Salem said.

Swvl Holdings’ ordinary shares and warrants commenced trading under the ticker symbols GMBT and GMBTW, respectively.

On Friday, the shares and warrants will trade under SWVL and SWVLW.

Expected proceeds from the listing will total $640 million, including $160m in immediate capital and $480m over the next few weeks if certain closing conditions are met, Mr Salem said.

“We're getting a substantial amount of capital from the transaction — more than we originally anticipated, so we have an overfunded business plan,” he said.

“We're getting the public currency that allows us to recruit the best talent and do all of the M&A that we wanted to do. And we have long-term investors who really want to see through the execution and value creation.”

Before the listing, Swvl pre-funded approximately $70m in a $121.5m Pipe (private investment in public equity) offering. Investors include Agility, Chimera, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Luxor Capital and Zain.

Founded in 2017 by Mr Kandil, Mahmoud Nouh and Ahmed Sabbah, Swvl allows commuters to reserve seats on private buses operating on fixed routes and pay fares through its mobile app.

Chief executive Mr Kandil previously started car classifieds platform Carmudi in the Philippines, served as Rocket Internet’s head of operations and rolled out services in several markets for ride-sharing unicorn Careem.

Swvl now offers intercity, intracity, business-to-business and business-to-government transport across more than 100 cities in more than 20 countries.

The company is planning to expand to several countries over the next six months, including Colombia, Peru, Mexico, South Africa and the US.

In August, Swvl entered Europe and Brazil through its acquisition of Shotl, a Spanish Uber-like service for bus and van operators.

The company also acquired a controlling stake in South American firm Viapool in November, granting the company access to Argentina and Chile and paving its entry into Brazil and Mexico.

This month, Swvl acquired door2door, a European high-growth mobility platform which has a 24 per cent market share in Germany.

“We’re growing double-digit month by month. Since we valued the deal at the time of the Spac, we have grown more than three times just from that point of time,” Mr Salem said.

“We’ve beaten our estimates three quarters in a row and we’ve raised our estimates for the year, so we feel very confident about the valuation from a company earnings perspective.”

Swvl's bookings rose 92 per cent in 2021 to reach more than 32 million.

“2021 was a very strong year for Swvl, and yet we have only begun to truly capitalise on the global market opportunities that are uniquely before us,” Mr Kandil said at the time.

“Our strong growth in bookings, total ticket fares and total available seats demonstrates strong execution and momentum across our business.

“We are confident that our investments and strong business plan execution will continue to create compelling value for all stakeholders over the near and long term.”

Updated: May 17, 2023, 3:55 PM