Anghami to become first Arab tech company listed on NASDAQ, following VMAC acquisition

Anghami to become first Arab tech company listed on NASDAQ

Anghami announced on Wednesday its merger with Vista Media Acquisition to become first Arab technology company to list on the NASDAQ, according to statement from the company, a leading music streaming platform and service in the Middle East and North Africa.

Vistas Media Acquisition Company Inc. is a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company led by CEO F. Jacob Cherian and co-founders Saurabh Gupta and Abhayanand Singh, with the trio announcing they have “entered into a definitive merger agreement.”

The pro-forma estimate for the joint company is $220 million and will operate under the Anghami name trading under the new stock symbol “ANGH.” In a press statement, Anghami said the transaction is expected to close in Q2 of 2021.

Anghami was founded in 2012 by Lebanese entrepreneurs Eddy Maroun and Elie Habib and is the first music-streaming platform in the MENA region. The firm has built a market-leading platform, offering more than 57 million songs to more than 70 million registered users with around 1 billion streams per month.

“Today is a very exciting day for all of us at Anghami and our partners globally. Elie and I co-founded the company in 2012 with a vision for Anghami to be a first of its kind, digital media entertainment technology platform in the MENA region. Today, we have taken a significant step forward in our growth plans in seeking to become the region’s first Arab technology company to list on NASDAQ. Being a U.S. listed public company gives us access to growth capital and a global platform that is the best in the world,” Co-founder and CEO of Anghami, Eddy Maroun, commented.

With an Arabic speaking population of over 450 million globally, a listing on NASDAQ allows Anghami to scale its userbase and invest in technology to build on its data play.

Anghami’s artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms process over 56 million data points from its user base every day.

Over nine years of user data enables the company to predict user behavior and trends to focus its investments in areas delivering the highest return on investment – which helps improve monetization – and will continue to be a key driver of revenues going forward.

The firm has long standing partnerships with all major global labels including Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and Warner Music Group. Anghami has licensing agreements with thousands of independent labels and distributors to provide users with legal access to a vast catalog of music.

It has a physical presence in most major countries in the MENA region to establish and maintain strong partnerships with labels, creators, brands, and telecommunication companies.

In addition, the Company has established direct partnerships with 36 telecommunication companies across the MENA region to boost free user acquisitions and facilitate subscriptions achieving the highest paying conversion rate in emerging markets.

The company is headquartered in Abu Dhabi, at the Abu Dhabi Global Market (“ADGM”), and has offices in Beirut, Dubai, Cairo, and Riyadh.

It is supported by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (“ADIO”), the Abu Dhabi government’s investment attraction and development hub, which partnered with Anghami as part of its Innovation Program, to develop its global headquarters and a technology and R&D center in Abu Dhabi.

The Company’s international head of partnerships is LA-based music industry entrepreneur and manager, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, the CEO of XO Records (the label which he co-founded with The Weeknd whom he also manages) and of SALXCO, his management firm.

Slaiby has been instrumental in formulating international partnerships and strategies to build an international fanbase and bridge the Middle East, North Africa, and global markets.

Anghami is currently backed by leading MENA venture capital firms and strategic shareholders, including media groups and telecommunications companies that collectively own approximately 68 percent of Anghami, with the balance owned by the founders.

Anghami’s proven management team led by co-founder and CEO Eddy Maroun will continue to operate and manage Anghami following the transaction. Co-founder and Chairman Elie Habib will continue as the CTO. F. Jacob Cherian, CEO of Vistas Media Acquisition Company Inc. is expected to join the Company as Co-CEO for a period of one year.

“We’re proud of the product and technology we’ve been able to build and now we will have the ability to invest more in R&D and innovate providing a product that goes beyond music to immersive experiences around media and entertainment while remaining relevant to our users and focused on our local edge,” Elie Habib, Co-founder, Chairman and CTO of Anghami, added.

PIPE & Transaction Overview SHUAA Capital psc. (DFM: SHUAA), and Singapore based Vistas Media Capital, have gathered commitments of a combined $40 million in a PIPE (SHUAA committed $30 million and Vistas committed $10 million).

SHUAA is the UAE’s premier publicly listed asset management and investment banking firm listed on the Dubai Financial Market, with over $14 billion in assets under management.

Anghami expects to have approximately $142 million of cash on its balance sheet at closing to be used primarily to fuel additional growth. The transaction implies an initial pro-forma enterprise valuation of approximately $220 million, or 2.5x 2022 estimated revenues.

This compares to Spotify’s current revenue multiple of 6.5x revenue.

“We are delighted to be leading the PIPE for Anghami’s business combination with VMAC in what will accelerate Anghami’s growth and build upon its success as a pioneer in the music streaming space in the Middle East and North Africa. SHUAA led a funding round for Anghami earlier in the year and has been working closely with the team to secure the PIPE investment and deliver a successful listing on NASDAQ. In addition, the enhanced reputation and access to capital that comes with a listing on NASDAQ accelerates the company’s growth journey,” Jassim Alseddiqi, Group CEO of SHUAA, said.

Sam Barnet, CEO of MBC, the Saudi Arabian media group and one of Anghami’s key shareholders, commented, “MBC is extremely proud of the exceptional team at Anghami and we are honored to be a part of a huge success story for the region. The team has been committed to revolutionizing the Arabic music industry through innovation and the best product in the market.”  

While, Rabih Khoury, Managing Partner of Middle East Venture Partners (“MEVP”), one of the leading Venture Capital Asset Managers in MENA, noted, “As the largest institutional investor in Anghami, we at MEVP are delighted that one more of our top portfolio companies will list on NASDAQ, the leading global market for technology. We have partnered with Eddy and Elie from the outset in 2012 and continuously supported Anghami starting with its seed round and all its subsequent funding rounds.


Senior Correspondent & Editor TK Maloy contributed to this story.