ePlanet Backs FRiENDi

FRiENDi Mobile, a Dubai-based mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) for the MENA region, has raised an undisclosed amount of VC funding from ePlanet Ventures.


ePlanet Ventures, the world's leading global venture capital firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, announced an investment in FRiENDi Mobile. The round was led by ePlanet Ventures, with participation from existing shareholders. FRiENDi will use the funds to accelerate its growth and leadership position in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.

FRiENDi Mobile, headquartered in Dubai, is the leading Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) in the MENA region. The company has been active in the regional telecom sector for the past two years, and has established offices and joint venture companies in partnership with prominent local partners across the region.

“Raising this scale of financing from high quality global investors provides us with a solid financial foundation for further accelerating our development of MVNO operations in the region, and puts FRiENDi Mobile in a strong position to pursue future opportunities in the telecommunications sector,” said Mikkel Vinter, CEO of FRiENDi Mobile. “Our company vision is to become the leading pan regional access-network independent telecom service provider in Asia & Africa, and we expect to benefit from the experience of our new shareholders in building category-leading companies such as the IP-telephony company Skype and the leading Chinese Internet search engine Baidu.” He added, “Our strategy for entering a regional market is to partner with local companies that provide complementary skills and assets such as local contacts and distribution channels. We are very proud of the partnerships FRiENDi Mobile has established across the region today, and a number of exciting new partnerships are in the pipeline.”

The financing for FRiENDi Mobile leaves the company in a strong financial position without any debt. As a result of the financing, Asad Jamal, Chairman and CEO of ePlanet Ventures, and Ayaz ul Haque, Managing Director, will join the board of directors.

Commenting on the occasion, Asad Jamal, said, “We evaluate literally thousands of investment opportunities, but only make 5 to 7 investments annually due to our rigorous evaluation and screening process, and the decision to invest in FRiENDi mobile was based on our view that it is a company operating in the attractive mobile telecommunications markets of Asia & Africa with a strong management team and a proven business model. We are pleased with the progress FRiENDi mobile has made so far, and we see the company as very well positioned for continued development and strong growth.” “We feel that the MENA region is primed for the entry of an MVNO and in FRiENDi we are excited about backing a management team with significant operational experience,” added Ayaz ul Haque.


ePlanet Ventures is a leading global venture capital firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, with international offices in London, New Delhi, Bangalore, Singapore, Shanghai, and Beijing, as well as a presence in Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo. ePlanet Ventures has funded over 80 innovative high-growth companies world-wide, including landmark deals Baidu (NASDAQ listing in August 2005, presently circa. US$12B market cap), Skype (sold to eBay for approx. US$3B in 2005), and Focus Media (NASDAQ listing 2005, presently circa. US$6B market cap). ePlanet is one of the leaders in promoting the cross-border migration of technological innovation, business models and entrepreneurship. The Firm has made investments in sectors such as the Internet (consumer Internet, Internet services and applications), wireless communications and applications, VoIP and other broadband services, entertainment, semiconductor design, life sciences and other emerging services sectors. ePlanet also seeks to make investments in traditional, established industries where business-model improvements have the power to create category-dominant companies in the world's fastest growing markets. The firm has won the China Venture Capital Association Exit of the Year 2005 for Baidu, and the European Venture Capital Association Deal of the Year 2005 Award for Skype, and has been profiled in FORBES Feb 2008 amongst the Top 10 global venture capital investors.


FRiENDi Mobile is an innovative telecommunications company that offers mobile services across the Asia & Africa region as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), which is a proven business model that brings significant benefits to end-users, telecom operator partners and the general societies of the countries where FRiENDi mobile operate. FRiENDi Mobile's vision is to become the leading pan regional access-network independent telecom service provider in Middle East & North Africa. FRiENDi mobile's management team bring together senior level cross-functional experience from successful regional and global mobile operators and MVNOs, and the company is backed by financially very strong, well respected and experienced shareholders based in the region and abroad.

FRiENDi Mobile is headquartered in Dubai Internet City in the United Arab Emirates, and has established a number of local operating companies and joint ventures across the MENA region with more to come in the near future. FRiENDi Mobile was operating under the working name 'Mobility Telecom' when the company was founded in early 2006, but as part of the rapid development of the business, introduced FRiENDi Mobile as the new company name in May 2007.