Anghami, Lebanese music streaming platform, is set to merge with OSN+, the video streaming platform of Dubai-based Orbit Showtime Network (OSN) group, which operates a bouquet of satellite TV channels. The news was announced on Wednesday via press releases published on the websites of Anghami and KIPCO (Kuwait Projects Company), the holding company that owns the OSN group and belongs to the al-Sabah family, Kuwait's current ruling dynasty.
The main thrust of the announcement is that the merger is intended to create a multimedia platform, the “first of its kind,” combining the product and service offerings of the two companies, which are leaders in their respective fields in the Middle East, Gulf and Maghreb. For Elie Habib, one of Anghami’s co-founders, it's all about “reinventing entertainment in the Arab world.”
Above all, the agreement will see the OSN Group take a majority stake in Anghami, when the transaction is finalized in the first quarter of 2024. OSN CEO Joe Kawkabani sees this as an opportunity to “develop [the group's activities] in the field of streaming.” KIPCO management stated that this transaction is part of a broader strategy to “leverage technology to evolve the models” of its businesses. KIPCO specifically mentions artificial intelligence-based technologies. Last May, Anghami announced the launch of two tools based on this technology.
Contacted by L'Orient-Le Jour, Elie Habib confirmed that this is indeed “a kind of merger-acquisition” at the end of which OSN “will own 54% of the shares in the final entity.”
Details of the transaction
Under the terms of the announced agreement, OSN plans to invest $50 million in Anghami, or $3.65 per share, which represents “3.9 times the average share price over the previous month,” said the press release. The final amount of OSN Group's cash investment in Anghami and the final number of Anghami shares to be issued in connection with this transaction are subject to “adjustment based on the terms of the definitive transaction agreement.”
Habib specified that “OSN's parent entity has invested $50 million” in cash, but that OSN+'s assets must also be included in the total package, i.e. the brand, its user base and its revenues, which will therefore become Anghami assets. In its press releases, the Lebanese platform assured that it intends to "maintain the listing of its ordinary shares on the New York Stock Exchange,” as reiterated by Habib to our newspaper.
Habib stressed that the merger will be carried out between Anghami and OSN+, which will pass entirely under the leadership of the Lebanese platform, and that the OSN group will continue to manage cable TV, IPTV and other affiliated services. “Anghami will take over the business, the paying users, the revenues and the content catalog, which will be transferred to it after the closing, subject to approval by the relevant regulatory authorities,” he explained. In terms of Anghami's management, Habib becomes Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the new entity. The position to be held by current CEO and second Anghami co-founder Eddy Maroun was not mentioned either by Elie Habib or in the press releases.
Launched in Beirut in 2012 and listed on Nasdaq since early 2022, Anghami claims a catalog of "100 million music tracks" and exclusive contracts with some of the Arab scene's most famous artists. Born of the 2009 merger between Orbit and Showtime Arabia, the OSN group launched its OSN+ platform in 2022, which offers “18,000 hours of video content” and exclusive broadcasting partnerships with international studios, notably American, Arab and Turkish.
Anghami and OSN+ aim to initially gather “120 million registered users and 2.5 million paying subscribers” for over “$100 million in combined annual revenues.” According to Habib, the result will be “an unprecedented combination of exclusive premium music and video entertainment services designed for the region,” which is, according to Anghami data, “one of the most dynamic in the world” when it comes to streaming.
“In the initial phase, the entity will adopt a multi-brand approach and retain two distinct offerings for consumers under the OSN+ and Anghami brands," he continued, meaning that neither Anghami nor OSN+ will change names initially.
“However, we will promote Anghami's technology, user base and huge catalog of music, podcasts and exclusive content, as well as OSN+'s exclusive premium entertainment content, partnerships with global studios using Anghami's technological expertise for the substantial combined user base,” explained the Anghami co-founder.
Anghami share price rebounds
The announcement of this connection has done much to boost Anghami's share price, which was moribund almost two years after it became the first tech company in the Arab world to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In a tech sector generally weakened since 2022, Anghami's ordinary share price had been hovering around 1 dollar for several months, far from its peak of nearly 18 dollars recorded in the wake of its IPO in January 2022, according to Nasdaq data.
It peaked at $3.11 on the day the OSN deal was announced, before retreating to around $2.65 on Wednesday (the New York Stock Exchange was closed on Thursday).
“The share was trading below $1.31 before the agreement was announced,” explained Elie Habib. Anghami's market capitalization, i.e. the total value of its outstanding common and preferred shares, was close to $70 million on Wednesday evening.
KIPCO, OSN's parent company, is listed on the Kuwaiti stock exchange (under the name KUWAIT PROJECTS COMPANY or KRPOJ). It invests in companies specializing in financial services, media, real estate and industry. It owns 90% of OSN (Saudi Mawarid owns the remaining 10%), which is worth several hundred million dollars. According to data published on its website, its consolidated assets have been valued at $37.2 billion in 2022, with revenues equivalent to $3.5 billion.
As a reminder, SRMG Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Saudi Research and Media Group, announced last August that it had released $5 million for a strategic investment in Anghami, which at the time had little impact on the share price.