Abu Dhabi's Multiply Group plans to invest $845m of its listings proceeds

The company, which bought in stakes Emirates Driving, Omorfia Group, Firefly and Yieldmo, has a 'promising' pipeline of international deals, chief executive says

IHC’s tech-focused Multiply Group listed its shares on the ADX in December. Photo: Multiply Group
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Multiply Group, an Abu Dhabi-based technology-focused investment holding company, plans to invest Dh3.1 billion ($845 million) it raised through its listing on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange to expand its global portfolio.

The company, a subsidiary of ADX-listed International Holding Company, has a “strong and promising” pipeline of potential acquisitions and it is evaluating several deals, Samia Bouazza, chief executive of Multiply Group, told The National.

Multiply Group listed its shares on Abu Dhabi bourse in December through a private placement deal that was 16 times oversubscribed. The company does not have debt on its balance sheet and is very well capitalised, which puts it in a “good” position to begin the year on an optimistic note, she said.

“We have raised money, which we need to start using wisely and intelligently,” Ms Bouazza said.

“In order to fund our inorganic growth in a very bold acquisitive mode … [we need] to find good opportunities that bring both strategic value to our portfolio and financial value to our shareholders.”

Multiply Group was acquired by IHC, the biggest company on ADX by market value, in 2020. It has been on an acquisitions spree, closing six investment transactions in 2021 alone. The company's portfolio of investments includes stakes in companies including Emirates Driving Company, Omorfia Group, Viola Communications, Firefly and Yieldmo.

“The plan was to create the portfolio of companies before listing”, and that drove the deal flurry last year, Ms Bouazza said.

The company’s Dh275m investment in global visual content creator and marketplace Getty Images is its latest deal. It signed a binding commitment to invest in Getty as part of the company's listing through its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or Spac, it announced in the last week of December.

Getty is merging with CC Neuberger Principal Holdings II and the deal is expected to close in the first half of 2022, after which a newly formed parent company of Getty Images is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Investments in Getty, Firefly and Yieldmo are examples of deals the company is looking for, Ms Bouazza said.

“It’s not about the volume, it’s about the quality of transactions,” she added. “We are talking about companies that are resilient, that are profitable and mature, and at the same time present opportunities for high growth.”

Multiply Group has five business verticals – ventures, digital, wellness, utilities and communications – and it is looking to build them as these sectors offer growth potential amid global economic recovery from the pandemic-driven slowdown.

The company, she said, is not in a rush to deploy funds unless it finds value accretive deals.

“We are receiving opportunities from some of the most trusted private equity firms and investment banks,” she said, declining to say when Multiply Group expects to close its next deal or what the current value of its investments portfolio is.

We have raised money, which we need to start using wisely and intelligently
Samia Bouazza, chief executive of Multiply Group

The company, which has a current market value of Dh18.8bn, is not restricted by the size of investment deals and even if it deploys the Dh3.1bn on its balance sheet, it can finance transactions through debt or funds from its parent IHC, Ms Bouazza said.

“Inorganically, we have a very acquisitive mindset and a lot of cash to support us. If we spend that cash and we need to borrow money we can also do that,” she said.

“All options are open, based on potential and strategic value [of the deal].”

If a transaction ticks all boxes, “there’s no limitation”, she added.

Multiply is also open to acquiring or investing in assets regardless of geographical boundaries. The deals it is currently evaluating are from three different countries on two different continents.

“We are genuinely looking at global opportunities,” Ms Bouazza said.

Updated: January 14, 2022, 5:31 AM