Anghami Founders Eddy Maroun and Elie Habib
Anghami founders Elie Habib (left) and Eddy Maroun... The portal has built a 57 million song library and has more than 70 million registered users. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Abu Dhabi headquartered music streaming platform Anghami is to hit the charts on Nasdaq – making it the first tech company of Middle East origin to list on the New York exchange.

The listing is in all likelihood happening in June and provide further impetus to a super-charged tech scene in the Middle East, with private equity and venture capital funds actively scouting around for the next big thing.

The Anghami listing will be done via a process – SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) – that’s been trending in recent months when it comes to public listings. It will see Anghami, which launched as a startup in Lebanon, merge with Vistas Media Acquisition Company Inc., which is a publicly traded SPAC.

Anghami - founded in 2012 by Eddy Maroun and Elie Habib - expects to have approximately $142 million of cash on its balance-sheet at closing and to be used primarily to fuel additional growth.

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The deal with Vistas values Anghami at around $220 million, or 2.5 times 2022 estimated revenues. Once that merger processes are done, the entity will head into the actual listing. (Going to market using a SPAC comes as an alternative to initial public offerings. With SPAC, the listing entity would have already drawn in funding commitments from investors, mostly institutions.)

With the global success of Spotify as well as the presence of Apple, subscription-based music streaming services have had some spectacular growth rates in the last two to three years. More so, in the last year when people found their schedules and life upended by COVID-19.

According to Maroun, “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 US listed public company gives us access to growth capital and a global platform that is the best in the world.”

After the deal
Once the deal with Vistas is effected, Anghami co-founder and CEO Eddy Maroun will continue to manage it. Co-founder and Chairman Elie Habib will remain as 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.

Win for Shuaa

It will also mark a milestone for Dubai-based Shuaa Capital, the asset management company that invested in Anghami early January. “We picked a minority stake then, by turning a convertible bond into equity,” said Jasim Alseddiqi, CEO of Shuaa. “What all of this proves is that the Middle East’s technology scene is a global one.

“Anghami on Nasdaq New York is a great first step, and sets a precedent for future companies from the Middle East that this is the avenue they can go on to.”

Alseddiqi did not say what Shuaa’s stake will be post the listing. Shuaa and Vistas have so far gathered commitments of $40 million in PIPE (Private Investment in Public Equity) financing. (Along with SPAC, PIPE too is gaining in popularity in investment circles. It essentially involves selling of publicly traded common shares to private investors.)

Why NY?

Given its Middle East lineage, couldn’t Anghami and Shuaa have sought a listing within the region? Why New York, in particular?

“We did not go to New York - we were approached by a SPAC out of Nasdaq that wanted to engage with Anghami,” said Alseddiqi. “Yes, Anghama is very much a regional player – but the global market of Nasdaq understands the dynamics of tech and music streaming.”

One big library

Anghami currently has more than 57 million songs, with more than 70 million registered users and around 1 billion streams per month. (Spotify has 155 million premium subscribers.)

Rabih Khoury, Managing Partner of Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), said: “As the largest institutional investor in Anghami, we are delighted that one more of our top portfolio companies will list on NASDAQ. We 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."