Singapore's VMC plans Mena expansion with $150m ADGM media investment fund

An events and content production company is also being formed to handle film production and the first Abu Dhabi Media Fest in November

FG81FD View of new business district at Abu Dhabi Global Market square (ADGM) on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates. Alamy
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Vistas Media Capital, the Singapore parent of the blank cheque company that is taking music streaming platform Anghami public, is expanding its reach in the Mena region through an investment fund and an events and content production company in Abu Dhabi.

The planned $150 million multi-strategy fund will be based at the Abu Dhabi Global Market while the events and content production company will be in the emirate’s media free zone, twofour54, VMC said on Sunday.

“We have carefully evaluated all the gaps and the demand that exists in this region across the media and entertainment sector and the need for an investment platform that offers unique global investment opportunities for ... Mena-based investors,” said Sandeep Mishra, who heads VMC’s local arm Vistas International DMCC.

The company will be able to bridge these gaps and “offer unique investment solutions for asset managers, investment funds, family offices and high-net-worth investors in the region” through the media unit and fund in Abu Dhabi, he said.

Vistas International DMCC was set up in Dubai before the start of discussions with the music streaming platform.

Anghami, Spotify’s rival in the Arab world, is set to become the first technology company from the region to list on the Nasdaq exchange in New York after a merger with Vistas Media Acquisition Company.

The deal valued Anghami at $220 million, or about 2.5 times its 2022 estimated revenue.

The streaming platform is raising about $100m through the deal. Founders Eddy Maroun and Elie Habib told The National in March that about 70 per cent of the proceeds would be reinvested to drive growth.

VMC, which has two investment funds in the Cayman Islands, said it is optimistic about the growth prospects of the region’s media.

Its planned fund in Abu Dhabi will rely on its expertise in content financing and give investors an opportunity to buy stakes in special purpose acquisition companies – listed entities created to merge with private ventures, allowing them to go public.

The investment vehicle will also seek to invest in pre-listing financing deals and structured finance transactions in the film, web series and music content creation industry in India and the Mena region.

The business will be headed by F Jacob Cherian, chief executive of VMAC, who will move from New York to Abu Dhabi.

VMC’s events and content production company will provide production services to Arabic, Hollywood and Bollywood films, including films in Indian regional languages.

It will be led by VMC co-founder Piiyush Singh and will launch the first Abu Dhabi Media Fest in November.

The nine-day event will include a film festival showcasing movies from South Asia and the Mena region. It will also function as a market that brings together film-makers, investors and content buyers.

“So far, we have successfully built and grown the Indian content production, distribution and media investment business and invested in select Hollywood productions,” said Mr Singh.

“The strategic location of Abu Dhabi allows us to continue to deepen our footprint in India and also expand our experience, network and offerings in the Arab world through producing or co-producing and supporting local content makers.”

Over the past few years, content from Asian markets such as India, South Korea and China has reached a much wider global audience, said Mr Singh.

“The timing is now perfect for quality Arabic content to reach a wider global audience.”