Conservus courts two US firms for future stake sale

Conservus International has lined up two more US-based technology companies that want to invest in the Dubai-based IT and media firm, Chairman Kamal Nasser has revealed. This follows the acquisition of a minority stake last year by Intel Capital, the chipmaker's global investment division.

"The companies are not the size of Intel," Nasser told Emirates Business. "They will sign partnership agreements before the end of the year. Both companies have exchanged non-disclosure agreements with us and in November we will have further meetings with them.

"The companies will not take immediate stakes in the company but will work as partners. It will be a courting period as we have to see how our media and their technology work together."

Intel Capital announced in February last year that it was investing in three UAE-based technology companies – Conservus, Pulse Technologies and Vertex Animation Studio. The funding from the $50 million (Dh183.6m) Intel Capital Middle East and Turkey Fund helped the companies to pursue regional growth and development plans in addition to extending product offerings. The fund invests in companies developing hardware, software, local content and services. Intel Capital led all three investments but the value of each was not let out.

Conservus is involved in conceptualising, designing and developing a targeted digital advertising medium known as the MyConservus Portal. The portal is an e-concierge platform that highlights services available at a single location and provides advertisers with direct access to potential consumers, while generating revenue from the adverts.

Conservus premiered the product in the hospitality sector by taking the generic internet log-in page that greets guests at every hotel and transforming it into a hybrid electronic magazine and boutique portal/concierge service portal.

The portal is available in the Jumeirah chain and at the Fairmont, and a number of additional launches have taken place at InterContinental, Hilton and Raffles properties, among others, since Intel acquired its stake.

"After the Intel investment we had enough resources to grow," said Nasser. "There are growth plans for next year that include expanding to other GCC states and to European countries. There have been pilot projects in New York and the UK."

The GCC countries that Conservus is looking at are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.

Nasser said the company had received offers from international companies that wished to invest in it. "But we want to start with a partnership to see how the services and products synergise."

Meanwhile, Conservus is set to launch a community portal, www.mydmc.ae, at Tecom's Dubai Media City after Ramadan.

"This is the first initiative by Tecom to create a community portal and it will include the other zones in the future. We previously focused on hospitality but in June or July we started working on community portals," said Nasser. "These portals allow members to use social networking features and find job vacancies. They basically create a platform where people can collect information.

"Since the Intel investment, Conservus has increased its footprint outside the hospitality sector and has received awards such as the Red Herring, which has been presented to global giants like Google and Yahoo."

 

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