Kuwait's Agility invests $35m in 'blank-cheque' company Queen's Gambit

Queen's Gambit will invest in clean energy, health care, FinTech, industrials, mobility and emerging technology

A tribunal run by the World Bank ordered Agility to pay Iraq $5.2m million to cover fees related to its action. AFP
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Agility, one of the largest logistics firms in the Middle East and North Africa, invested $35 million in blank-cheque company Queen's Gambit Growth Capital.

Queen's Gambit will invest in businesses offering sustainable solutions in clean energy, health care, FinTech, industrials, mobility and emerging technology.

Blank-cheque companies, or special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC) as they are formally known, are investment vehicles that raise money on public markets with the intention of acquiring or merging with a private firm. SPACs normally need to complete an acquisition within two years of raising funds. If they fail to do this, the money has to be returned to investors.

“Agility’s investment in Queen’s Gambit reflects our commitment to sustainability and our belief that innovative technology can yield both social and economic returns,” Tarek Sultan, vice-chairman of Agility, said.

“This is not a new position for us. We’ve been investing in stakeholder capitalism for more than a decade.”

Queen's Gambit also has an all-female board and management team, with New York-based venture capitalist Victoria Grace as its chief executive.

The company “has the potential to tap into a differentiated network and perspective that positions it to execute a business combination with an attractive target”, Mr Sultan said.

Agility is among a few Middle Eastern firm that have publicly invested in SPACs, which Goldman Sachs estimates raised a record $70 billion last year and helped to fuel a rally in Wall Street listings.

SPACS have gained traction among investors amid the pandemic as an alternative to initial public offerings. In a blank-cheque merger, companies can pitch to investors using forward-looking financials, which is not allowed for traditional IPOs but is more helpful for early stage companies.

While SPACs have their risks, these have not stopped major investors from weighing in.

In December, Softbank said it will launch a SPAC to raise $525m to invest in a technology company.