Actis invests in emerging markets mobile marketing company

Actis has backed Upstream, an emerging markets mobile monetisation company. Its clients include the Vodafone Group, Telecom Italia Mobile, MTN, T-Mobile and Etisalat.


Actis, the global emerging market investor with $7bn assets under management, today announced a significant investment in Upstream, the leading emerging markets mobile monetisation company.

Upstream works with mobile operators, e-commerce brands and app developers in 40 markets helping them to sell their products to mobile consumers through sophisticated demand fulfillment marketing campaigns, while increasing customer loyalty and providing deep customer insights. Its clients include the Vodafone Group, Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM), MTN, T-Mobile and Etisalat.

Upstream has direct marketing and billing access to over 1 billion emerging market consumers through their mobile handsets, offering them personalised propositions. The company has already generated an estimated $1bn of incremental revenue for its clients and grew its revenues by 61% in 2013 with new services and markets being added on a monthly basis.

The investment in Upstream is a strong representation of Actis’ strategy of investing in well-managed businesses in high-growth sectors providing quality services to emerging market consumers.

There are currently 2.3 billion mobile subscribers in emerging markets who on average spend more than two hours a day playing, texting and talking on their phones. As a consequence, the mobile value added services sector in emerging markets generated c.$14bn in revenue and has grown at c.30% p.a. between 2010-2013 . Building on its success with clients in Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Upstream plans to expand its current service offering and regional footprint and gain access to other high growth markets. Actis’ sixty years of experience and expertise across Latin America, Africa, and Asia makes it an ideal partner to help implement this strategy.

Speaking on the investment Nick Luckock, an Actis Partner, said:
“The evolution of how emerging market consumers use and purchase intangible goods from their mobile phones is one of the most significant secular trends we see in our markets. Mobile marketing businesses are at the center of promulgating and understanding these developments. Upstream, with its well-established business model, best in class technology platform, talented team, high-quality partner MNOs and exceptional track record of conversion and customer management, is an ideal investment for Actis. We are looking forward to working with a high-quality entrepreneur like Marco Veremis.”

CEO and founder Marco Veremis has led the business since its foundation and will continue to lead the company after Actis’ investment. He commented: “Actis has a first-class reputation as an emerging market investor. Its track record of partnering with founder and entrepreneur management teams is exceptional. Upstream will benefit from Actis’s deep expertise in emerging markets and its highly complementary regional presence. Upstream’s founders and management team are glad to see Actis subscribing to our vision and look forward to a close collaboration in executing our high growth strategic expansion plan for the coming years. I would like to give special thanks to Panos Metsis of Akira Partners who went well beyond the call of duty in advising us on this partnership”


Notes to editors
About Actis
Actis invests exclusively in the emerging markets with a growing portfolio of investments in Asia, Africa and Latin America; it currently has US$7 billion funds under management. Combining the expertise of over 120 investment professionals on the ground in nine countries, Actis identifies investment opportunities in three areas: private equity, energy and real estate. Actis is proud to actively and positively grow the value of those companies in which it invests and in so doing contribute to broader society.

About Upstream
Upstream is a mobile monetisation powerhouse. To date, the company has engaged 600 million consumers over mobile and converted 65 million of them into paying customers. Its carrier grade platform has securely managed 160,000 campaigns and more than 30 billion mobile interactions. Upstream’s clients are some of the world-leading MNOs including the Vodafone Group, Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM), MTN, T-Mobile and Etisalat. Upstream’s global strategy is simple: monetize mobile better than anyone else in the world. The company offers global coverage with offices in London, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Lagos, Dubai, Athens, Bucharest and Rome.