Intel Capital set to roll out investment in eighth Gulf firm

12 October 2009
Intel Capital, the global investment arm of chipmaker Intel Corporation, is set to announce its eighth investment in a Gulf-based mobility company before the end of this year.

Feroz Sanaulla, Director (Middle East, Turkey and Africa), at Intel Capital, told Emirates Business: "We have been keeping our eyes and ears open for the whole region and investments have happened this year in Lebanon, Jordan and three in the UAE. I have travelled quite a bit in the region to rejuvenate the pipeline for future reviews and plan for the next set of investments.

"I cannot reveal details of the investment but it will be in mobility and announced soon. I cannot mention which country and there is no such mandate that the investments have to focus on one country.

"We were lucky enough to finalise the earlier deals and be in the forefront."

At the beginning of this year, Intel Capital invested into three UAE firms - Conservus International, Pulse Technologies, and Vertex Animation Studio. The investment was part of Intel Capital's $50 million (Dh183.5m) Middle East and Turkey fund. Intel Capital was launched in 2005 and initially made investments in Lebanon and Egypt.

Sanaulla also highlighted the fact that investments for Intel have happened more outside of North America - up to 62 per cent.

"The investments must increase the use of Intel products eventually and increase competition for us. It must encourage the use of broadband and use technology in more interesting methods.

"The company must have the ability to grow. A good deal is one that is financially attractive and strategically aligned. The company must be able to grow in the global market place and as a global investor we don't look at a subset and also enable a platform for interactions across the world," he said.

A deal normally takes three months of discussion for the firm and sometimes become a long process. Defining ROI for Intel comes only when it decides to exit like any other VC fund firm.

"We haven't exited any of our investments as of now but when the first exit happens from Intel it will show entrepreneurs how to go from one point to another. We did exit from Sphere Networks but it was a strategic one as our own customer was interested in the company," said Sanaulla.

Sphere Networks, is a Dubai based networking company and one of the first to receive Intel Capital investment. Recently, as per media reports, a Taiwanese company has shown interest in purchasing the company. On contacting Sphere, the top management confirmed this and revealed that final talks were under progress.

"The Middle East is growing - even though that growth is in single digits - and that makes it attractive for Intel. There is a lot of new talent and investment must happen to develop local brands. Intel is also open to get co-investors in these companies," he said.

By Nancy Sudheer

© Emirates Business 24/7 2009