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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Gulf Capital buys strategic stake in Saudi Geidea

Alternative asset manager pays more than 1bn Saudi riyals

Karim El Solh, the CEO of Gulf Capital says Saudi Geidea achieved a market leading position in a short space of time. Lee Hoagland / The National
Karim El Solh, the CEO of Gulf Capital says Saudi Geidea achieved a market leading position in a short space of time. Lee Hoagland / The National

Gulf Capital, the Abu Dhabi-based alternative asset manager that manages more than Dh14.7 billion (US$4 billion) of assets, acquired a strategic stake in Saudi Geidea, a provider of electronic payment solutions and financial technologies for more than 1bn Saudi riyals (Dh980).

“We are delighted to partner with Geidea, the leading payment solutions company in Saudi Arabia and to help support it on its ambitious growth and expansion plans,” Karim El Solh, chief executive officer of Gulf Capital, said in an e-mailed statement.

“In a relatively short period of time, Geidea has emerged as the market leader in the financial technology sector in Saudi Arabia, paving the way for more financial institutions and businesses in the in kingdom to adopt Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 of achieving far-reaching economic prosperity and moving towards a cashless society.”

A more precise figure for the cost of the stake and its size weren’t disclosed.

Gulf Capital’s acquisition came days after the launch of an initiative by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (Sama) to promote the country as a destination for fintech innovation. In February, the kingdom's central bank signed an agreement with US fintech company Ripple to run a pilot project to help banks settle payments using blockchain.

GCC countries are increasingly looking to fintech to improve efficiency in their banking industries, with financial free zones including the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Global Market and Dubai International Financial Centre issuing regulations to govern the fast-growing sector. Bahrain, which aims to become a global hub for fintech, launched a fintech ‘regulatory sandbox’ last year, enabling firms to test and develop products in a virtual space.

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“The reliance of financial institutions on financial technology in order to further develop and grow is a fundamental pillar for shaping the future of Saudi fintech in light of the kingdom’s clear goal of achieving cashless cities to drive economic growth,” said Abdullah Bin Faisal Al-Othman, founder and president of Saudi Geidea.

“This deal is a major step in supporting investments in these areas with the aim of providing real digital transformation in financial services within Saudi Vision 2030’s targets. We are confident that financial technology will make financial services faster, easier and less costly."

The deal is the fifth for Gulf Capital in the technology sector and is part of its efforts to develop the payment and digital financial transaction industry in the GCC.