UAE’s iMena Holdings plans first IPO in technology sector

Company that helps tech start-ups plans to hold the IPO within the next two years.

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A UAE company that helps technology start-ups aims to become the first industry player to make an initial public offering in the Middle East.

iMena Holdings is planning to hold the IPO within the next two years as the region’s technology accelerator sets up Himmah with Etisalat and twofour54, a group to help technology entrepreneurs in the region.

It would be the first technology-focused IPO in the region if it goes ahead according to iMena’s co-founder Khaldoon Tabaza.

“While we operate as a start- up, we have raised money like an investment company,” said Mr Tabaza. “Our first raise was US$50 million and we are now working on a big raise from international and regional investors, which we believe will enable us to reach a size in terms of operations that will enable us to list and become a proxy for the growth of online businesses in the region.”

It is still too early to decide how much iMena will float or how much it plans to raise, but Mr Tabaza is considering regional stock markets as well as international ones.

“We are seeing encouraging liberalisation and opening up of the regional stock markets, yet companies similar to iMena from other markets like Russia and China have opted to list internationally,” said Mr Tabaza “We are keeping our options open.”

iMena owns OpenSooq and Easy Taxi. It has a partnership with Germany’s Rocket Internet, which raised €1.4 billion (Dh6.44bn)in its IPO last month.

According to twofour54 the Middle East has entered a hyper-growth era of consumer demand for online businesses. This means Mena will probably produce at least $10bn of publicly listed digital companies if it continues growing at this rate, according to the study.

Himmah will focus on stimulating the development of the region’s online industry. The group offers know-how, networking and support for entrepreneurs and start-ups, aiming to boost online service offerings and consumer presence for the region’s 150 million internet users. “Twofour54 is dedicated to the development of a sustainable media industry,” said Noura Al Kaabi, the chief executive at twofour54.

“Himmah ... aims to create growth opportunities for entrepreneurs and start-ups in the digital space.”

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