Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 10, 2010: Growthgate, the GCC-based specialist buyout firm, announced that it has reached a final agreement to acquire 30% of IrisGuard, a world leader in iris recognition technologies (IRT). The company offers IRT solutions to national security organizations, law enforcement agencies, polling, electoral processors, and banking institutions around the world. In 2009, IrisGuard was presented with the prestigious Frost & Sullivan Award warranted by the company’s focus on R&D, design and manufacture of exceptional IRT products. Strong technological and product innovation have successfully positioned IrisGuard as a leading specialist in IRT solutions worldwide. The company manufactures the world’s most accurate iris recognition camera systems, the IrisGuard IG-H100® and IG-AD100®, in addition to a portfolio of 4 additional iris imagers under development. IrisGuard launched the world’s first, most searched, and largest iris recognition solution for Homeland Security in the UAE in 2001. The UAE currently deploys over 250 iris imagers in every Land, Sea and Air Ports-of-Entry in the country. IrisGuard also made history in 2008, becoming the first to deploy real-time card-free (no Pin or Card) iris recognition solutions for banks via ATMs. Cairo Amman Bank was the first bank to deploy this pristine solution with over 400 iris imagers deployed in Jordan and Palestine. 2010 has witnessed the company’s full entry into the US market via the provision of IRT-enabled systems and cameras to fifty US Law Enforcement agencies deployed throughout the USA, in addition to US System- Integrators, banks and financial institutions. IrisGuard has been profitable since inception in 2000. IRT in particular has entered a very exciting growth period and IrisGuard expects to generate revenues in excess of $10 million and to realize an EBITDA in excess of 30% in 2010, consistently with its historical track record. Both Growthgate and IrisGuard being privately held, the value of the transaction was not disclosed. IrisGuard has offices in Jordan, the UK, Switzerland and UAE.
Mr. Imad Malhas, co-founder and CEO of IrisGuard stated ”We are extremely pleased with Growthgate’s investment which is a tribute to IrisGuard’s pioneering technological work and its commercial success”. Iris technology has the smallest outlier population (measurement error: persons who cannot use or enroll in the system) of all biometric technologies. Because of its speed of comparison, iris recognition is the only biometric technology well suited for one-to-many (1:N authentication) personal identification. A single enrollment can last a lifetime. “We view this transaction as a firm commitment by an astute partner who is set on maximizing value and accelerating performance through intensive focus on R&D for next generation products and expanding services worldwide.” Mr. Malhas added.
Growthgate -managed by Keystone – follows a ‘buy and build’ investment strategy that partners with the management of growth-orientated businesses led by visionary and pioneering entrepreneurs, and together steering their courses into becoming enduring, large-scale organizations. This deal marks the sixth direct equity investment by Growthgate since its capitalization in mid 2007, and the first in the technology sector. Growthgate’s current portfolio comprises: Able Logistics Group, Gama Aviation Holding, Roots Group;
Growthgate Capital Corporation, the GCC based specialist buyout firm, announced that it has reached a final agreement to acquire 30% of Rubicon, MENA’s leading digital content production & animation company. Rubicon is a pioneer in k-12 education content, currently used in many countries across the region such as Jordan, Oman, Algeria and Morocco. The company has the largest 2D and 3Danimation studio in the Middle East, and is executing location-based entertainment projects in two destinations of above a billion dollars development budgets. Rubicon is also involved in the licensing and merchandizing business of its own IP in addition to the IP of major studios and independent parties in the U.S. In October 2008, MGM studios and Rubicon announced that they are producing new episodes of MGM’s Pink Panther series to air on Cartoon Network channels worldwide. The 78 episodes are scheduled to be completed end of 2009 while talks about production of subsequent seasons of the Pink Panther & Pals are currently underway. Rubicon is the creator of “Ben & Izzy” a successful children TV series that aired in Ramadan 2008 on MBC. The series is based on the adventures of two youngsters: one American and one Arab who travel back through ancient times and meet a glorious band of scientists, travelers and poets, taking viewers on a fantastic new journey in each episode. “Ben & Izzy” is a contestant at the International Emmy’s under the Children Category Award at the 2009 Cannes Festival. Rubicon has recently also started the production of a 3D CG theatrical movie about the “Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” for worldwide release in December 2011. Rubicon operates out of Amman, Dubai, L.A., and Manila. The company forecast revenues for 2010 are in excess of $100 million, and it plans to invest circa US$M75 over the next three years in various productions. Both Growthgate and Rubicon being privately held, the value of the transaction was not disclosed.
Ms. Randa Ayoubi, founder and CEO of Rubicon stated: “We are very excited to partner with Growthgate whom we found to be an investor with vision and foresight, not just a financial investor. Growthgate with its forward-thinking mandate, professional management and results-driven ethos, seems to be a nurturing ground for regional champions, something that is still largely lacking in the Middle East”. Ms. Ayoubi added: “The animation landscape in the Middle East, as well as, edutainment has not taken centre-stage in the boom times of 2005-2007. Other sectors overshadowed the opportunities that lay ahead in this growing segment which addresses hundreds of thousands of students and millions of young viewers”. The industry remains fairly untapped and the estimated pent up demand for animation in the region remains significant. In recent years (2007) Dubai launched the Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC) to provide students training through different courses; and Jordan has established the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts, chaired by Ms. Ayoubi, in partnership with the University of Southern California – School of Cinematic Arts. Further commenting on this transaction, Ayoubi said “The creative value chain of Rubicon is quite unique in the emerging markets where few animation firms combine creative content with high-quality production capacity, proprietary IP developments and; co-partnership projects with major US animation studios”.
Growthgate -managed by Keystone – follows a ‘buy and build’ investment strategy that is set on partnering with the management of growth-orientated businesses and, together, steering their courses into becoming enduring, large-scale organizations. This deal marks the fifth direct equity investment by Growthgate since its capitalization in mid 2007, and the first in the ‘Edutainment & Animation’ sector. Growthgate’s portfolio companies already comprise: Able Logistics Group (logistics & transport), Gama Aviation Holding (managed-private jets and aviation services), Roots Group (construction-related materials); and Averda International (environmental & waste management services).