- First transaction under Royal Decree for 90% foreign ownership in highly regulated sector
- Deal includes both Virgin Mobile and Friendi Mobile brands
RIYADH, KSA: Beyond ONE™, a newly formed subsidiary of private global investment company Priora Management Holding Dubai, today announced the acquisition of Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa (VMMEA), the region’s largest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), with active operations under its Virgin Mobile and Friendi Mobile brands in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Kuwait.
The deal is the first for Beyond ONE, a TMT-sector (technology, media, telecommunications) investment and operations company established in 2021 in Dubai, as well as the first foreign ownership transaction to be approved under the 2021 Royal Decree sanctioning foreign direct investment and full ownership of organizations in a number of sectors within the Kingdom.
Equity funded by Priora Management Holding Dubai, owned by Swiss businessman Remo Stoffel, and Beyond ONE Group CEO Markus Tagger, Beyond ONE intends to become a leading digital services provider radically reshaping consumers’ interaction with technology in growth markets around the world. The investment strategy and operational management of the company is led by a team of seasoned international industry executives.
VMMEA, a pioneer MVNO in the Middle East has enjoyed considerable success since it was founded in 2006, today serving more than three million users in multiple GCC countries and operating a profitable, industry-leading digital communication platform for both its Virgin Mobile and Friendi Mobile operations. The deal sees Virgin Group invest alongside Beyond ONE, retaining a minority stake in the company and a seat on the board.
Markus Tagger, Group CEO of Beyond ONE said: “We are looking at the acquisition of companies with a strong position and significant growth potential in their respective markets – VMMEA’s operations comfortably meet these requirements.
“Both Virgin Mobile and Friendi Mobile benefit from strong brand equity and significant trust from their customers, partners and employees, and we will do what is in our power to maintain this. With a focus on expansion, Beyond ONE will, over time, introduce new services, experiences and technology that will simplify and benefit our customers’ lives.”
Beyond ONE acquires the entire operation of VMMEA and is increasing its shareholding to control positions in all local country operations by buying out minority shareholders. For VMMEA, the timing of the acquisition is on track with the long-term strategy agreed by its shareholder base following its successful 15-year growth path.
Josh Bayliss, CEO of the Virgin Group, says: “Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter for Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa. Virgin Group is a long-standing investor in the company and is looking forward to the partnership with Beyond ONE as it heralds a new digital future for the region. Beyond ONE’s investment is testament to the opportunity which lies ahead – for customers, employees and the countries in which Virgin Mobile operates – in bringing better mobile connectivity to consumers and businesses.”
VMMEA will be led by the seasoned Beyond ONE executive team alongside most of the existing VMMEA team in each market. Together they bring industry experience, expertise, and a common vision for a digital world with fewer barriers, increased accessibility and a simpler, hyper-customised service that impacts consumers’ lives in a transformative way.
The acquisition signals confidence in the continued growth potential of the TMT-sector in the region and reiterates latest insights on global M&A activity for the sector.
Beyond ONE is on track to complete further acquisitions in other high growth markets around the world and is currently in negotiations with additional targets in the communications, fintech and entertainment space.
About Beyond ONE™
Beyond ONE is a digital services provider radically reshaping the personalised digital ecosystems of consumers in emerging markets around the world. We put people at the centre of everything we think and do, to create hyper-customised digital experiences that improve their lives and create a more inclusive, colourful and connected world for everyone. A subsidiary of private global investment company Priora Management Holding Dubai, Beyond ONE is headquartered in Dubai, and through its investments, operates in a number of countries around the world. Find out more at www.beyond.one
About Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa
Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa is part of the Virgin family group of companies. Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa is responsible for all Virgin Mobile operations in the Middle East and Africa region, and is headquartered in Dubai, UAE. It has been in the region since 2009 and operates the two consumer brands of Virgin Mobile and FRiENDi Mobile. Partnering with telecoms operators, the Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa team provides customers with innovative products and packages designed to make their mobile experience better. Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa believes in having great people, and the management team is made up of senior level team members from a variety of successful regional and global mobile operators, as well as from MVNOs.
About Virgin Group
The Virgin Group is a leading international investment group and one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands. Created in 1970 with the birth of Virgin Records, the Virgin Group has gone on to invest in, incubate, and grow a number of successful businesses in the private and public markets. The Virgin Group has expanded into many sectors since its inception, driven by Sir Richard’s ambition to create the world’s most irresistible brand. These sectors include travel & leisure, financial services, health & wellness, technology & internet-enabled, music & entertainment, media & mobile, space, and renewable energy. Avoiding the impacts of climate change is a key priority for the Virgin branded businesses and we believe that all Virgin branded companies should achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. Find out more at www.virgin.com.