On November 16, 2021, Paris-based investment fund manager, Amethis, announced that it had invested in UAE-headquartered language services and technology provider, Tarjama, acquiring a minority stake. The transaction was the second for Amethis’ newly launched fund, Amethis MENA Fund II (AMF2). The amount of the investment and Tarjama’s valuation were not disclosed.
Tarjama CEO and Founder, Nour Al Hassan, told Slator, “This investment will support us in realizing our AI technology roadmap and in executing our growth strategy across the region’s main markets.”
The deal, which closed on November 10, 2021, is the culmination of talks that began in December 2019. According to Al Hassan, Amethis went to great lengths to understand the language technology and services sector and “added value even before the investment was completed, especially during the pandemic.” This, along with their shared vision, was what made Amethis the right partner.
Toufic Khoueiry, who led the deal on Amethis’ side, cited Tarjama’s commercial infrastructure and technology focus as factors in the investment’s appeal. A further consideration was the expanding localization market in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), which is “underpinned by expanding cross-boundary business activity and online content,” Khoueiry said.
Elaborating on demand drivers in MENA, Al Hassan told Slator, “The market has huge potential. Arabic is the fifth most-spoken language in the world, with around 25 Arabic-speaking countries and up to 30 colloquial dialects creating a huge translation demand.”
Asked about Tarjama’s priorities following the investment, Al Hassan highlighted the following key areas:
- Organic growth – “We will keep increasing our commercial footprint, exploring strategic partnerships and channel sales in new markets such as Turkey and Pakistan.” In terms of sectors, “we see that gaming and e-commerce are the ones with the biggest potential.”
- M&A – “Inorganic expansion is an important component of our growth strategy. We will work to identify and acquire high-quality companies in existing or adjacent verticals.”
- AI roadmap realization – Tarjama has added a business platform, called T-Portal, to its existing technology and product portfolio, which includes a proprietary Arabic machine translation engine and translation management system (TMS). The company aims to further augment the portal with AI capabilities to digitize workflows, achieve smoother customer interactions, and draw data-informed business insights. “We aim for a lighter approach where technology and AI step in to automate part of the work.”
Amethis will not be involved in running the day-to-day business. Instead, the investment manager will support Tarjama as a value-adding investor and join the board of directors.
Dechert LLP acted as legal adviser to Nour Al Hassan and Tarjama, while Hourani & Partners acted as legal adviser to Amethis. Full disclosure: PWC and Slator were also retained by Amethis for financial, tax, and commercial due diligence.