Middle Eastern Investors and USA Startups

Middle Eastern Investors and USA Startups

Fintech as a sector increased its cross-border capital market activity in 2021. The first 10 months of 2021 saw a 300% increase in capital deployed by Middle Eastern investors into USA startups at 2020 levels. (In this report, startups are classified as private organizations that raise capital through venture capital or growth-stage private equity rounds.) Middle Eastern investors have an appetite to invest in USA-based early-stage fintech companies. Stripe and Square may be grabbing the headlines, but smaller companies have been successful in raising early-stage funding internationally.

Capital Market Activity

Middle Eastern investors have deployed approximately $6.5 billion into early-stage fintech companies based in the USA since 2020. Within the segment, 164 announced deals have been conducted. Middle Eastern investors’ desire to diversify their portfolios away from oil and natural gases and into high-growth private companies drives the increase in market activity.

  • Deals between USA-based fintech companies and Middle Eastern investors increased significantly between 2020 and 2021. In 2020, a total of $1.45 billion was deployed across 67 deals. In the first 10 months of 2021, $5.1 billion has been deployed across 97 deals.
  • Between Q2 of 2020 and Q2 of 2021, capital deployment increased 10-fold while deal count more than doubled. In 2020, Q2 was the least active quarter of the year due to the economic effects of the global lockdowns. Deal count and capital deployment has increased steadily over the remainder of 2020 and 2021.
  • The largest deal in the sector was SpotOn’s $300 million Series E round. Mubadala Investment Company participated in the round, alongside Andreessen Horowitz and a consortium of other investors. The Series E saw SpotOn’s valuation increase from $1.875 billion to $3.15 billion, and the funds will be allocated towards acquisition financing.

Active Type of Transactions and Company Sizes


Active Investors and Their Latest Deals

Israeli venture capital funds lead the region with respect to deal count in the sector. Connections between the USA and Israeli capital markets remain strong with significant activity across software and technology sectors. Investors from the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states are also increasing investments in USA-based fintech companies.

  • AltaIR Capital, a Tel Aviv–based venture capital firm with $600 million in assets under management, has conducted 14 deals with USA-based fintech companies since 2020.
  • Mubadala Investment Company, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, invested in eight USA-based fintech startups. The group maintains a median check size of $200 million across sectors.
  • VentureSouq is the only investor on the most active list whose most recent deal in the sector was a seed-stage investment. The Dubai-based venture capital fund has made 141 investments since its inception in 2013 and has a median check size of $4 million.
  • Later-stage venture capital deals dominated capital deployed by Middle Eastern investors into USA-based fintech companies. Later-stage venture capital accounted for 69% of capital deployment and 34% of the deal count within the sector.
  • Growth and early-stage venture capital deals saw the largest percentage of deals with 36%, while accounting for 20% of capital deployed.
  • Incubators, pre-seed, seed, and angle rounds were not a significant contributor in the sector. This highlights the need for a proven business model, established products and services, and small yet stable income streams before raising capital from international sources.
Overall, the fintech sector is progressively increasing its capital market activity. Despite the pandemic slowing down other businesses’ activities, fintech deals from the USA received over $5 billion in capital in the first three quarters of 2021 from the Middle East alone. As the need for strong technology increases in the Middle East, J&A expects deal size and deal count to increase over the upcoming years. As the early-stage companies develop and establish new technology trends, funding for acquisitions will increase for the entities with a longer presence in the international markets.

USA Investors and Middle Eastern Startups

USA Investors and Middle Eastern Startups

Middle Eastern fintech companies have experienced a boom in capital market activity since the start of 2021 and the reopening of the global economy. The fintech industry is rapidly developing and disrupting traditional banking and financial institutions. Fintech startups in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia have conducted significant capital market activity since the start of 2020. Notably, groups in the segment have attracted investments from USA-based venture capital sources.

This report explores the investments made by USA investors into Middle Eastern fintech startups since 2020. Only announced deals are analyzed. This report will outline the type, volume, and industry of deals conducted by USA investors into Middle Eastern companies.

  • USA investor activity in the Middle East slowed down in 2020, as it did for most other cross-border investments. After the normalization of the global capital markets, fintech startups in the Middle East capitalized on the USA investor appetite. Transactions grew steadily in 2021, leading to over 20 investments in four quarters, from Q3 of 2020 to Q3 of 2021.
  • In Q4 of 2021, the average capital invested per deal more than doubled. Due to this, the overall capital deployed increased by 1,750% in 2021 compared to 2020.

Cross-Border Fintech Venture Capital Investments: USA Investors and Middle Eastern Companies

  • Significant deal count (37%) and capital deployment (39%) by USA-based investors into Middle Eastern fintech startups occurred within seed-stage investments. This shows the development of new companies designed to serve an underserved market and the strong potential for growth in the space.
  • Incubator funding made up 39% of the total sector deal count but less than 1% of capital raised. This suggests that most deals in the incubation phase were conducted without capital being injected into the business.
  • Early-stage venture capital accounted for 22% of deal count and 69% of capital deployment. The growth and funding of Middle Eastern fintech startups will lead to a boom in the sector as traditional banking and financial institutions are disrupted.

Deal Spotlight: Tarabut Gateway

The Company

Tarabut Gateway is a financial technology and software development company that has created a platform to regulate the banking sector. The platform is designed to connect a regional network of banks and other fintech companies through a universal applications programming interface (API). Tarabut’s platform utilizes the API to assist in the transfer of data and to create a greater level of integration within the finance sector in the region.

Recent Fundraising

  • Tarabut Gateway completed a pre-Series A round of $12 million on November 2, 2021, at an undisclosed valuation.
  • Tiger Global Management led the round with Dubai International Finance Center and other undisclosed investors participating.
  • Tarabut Gateway had previously raised $13 million through seed funding in February 2021, which was also led by Tiger Global Management.
The fintech sector is rapidly developing in the Middle East, and early-stage companies will drive transformation within the banking and financial sectors. International investors should be mindful of the growth potential of the sector and the opportunities that well-funded startups can capitalize on. J&A forecasts the continued expansion of capital market activity between USA-based venture capital funds and Middle Eastern fintech startups.

Cross Border Capital Markets Report: SEA Investors and USA Companies in 2020

Cross Border Capital Markets Report: SEA Investors and USA Companies in 2020

This report highlights investments made by Southeast Asian (SEA) investors into USA companies throughout 2020. Only announced deals are analyzed in this report. This report outlines the type, deal count, dollar volume, and industries of deals conducted by Southeast Asian investors into USA companies. Singtel Innov8 is part of the investor spotlight feature, and Stack Overflow is analyzed as the deal spotlight.

Southeast Asian Investors and USA Deals: Deal Count and Volume

In 2020, 248 institutions and individual investors from Southeast Asia closed 373 transactions in USA companies and invested a total of $32 billion. The following graphs show deal count and deal amounts in 2020.

FIGURE 1: Deals by SEA investors in USA Companies Investments Over Time

Data provided by Pitchbook, accessed March 4, 2021

Number of Deals by SEA investors in USA Companies: 2020

  • Compared with private equity firms and corporations, SEA venture capital firms closed the most deals in USA companies. In 2020, deal counts were 10% lower compared to 2019, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Transaction volume decreased by 30% as a direct result of the pandemic in Q2 of 2020. Transaction volume increased in Q3 and Q4.
  • The number of venture capital deals in Q2 did not significantly decrease as a result of the pandemic. However, M&A and private equity deals did decrease in Q2 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Dollars Invested by SEA Investors in USA Companies: 2020

  • In 2020, 96 USA companies raised a total of $7 billion from SEA investors, for an average deal size of $73 million in Q1. Despite the decrease of deal counts in Q2, 68 USA companies raised $19 billion from SEA investors for an average deal size of $289 million.
  • Private equity firms from SEA closed major investments into USA companies in Q2 at the height of pandemic tensions at a total of $14 billion.
  • In Q3 and Q4, a total of 177 companies raised approximately $4 billion in each quarter from SEA investors.

SEA Investors and USA Investments: Investments by Industry

SEA investors’ capital infusion in USA companies are predominantly seen in fast-changing and popular verticals like fintech, AI, machine learning, and technology, media, and telecom (TMT). Most of the investments in these verticals are SaaS-based solutions.

FIGURE 2: Capital Breakdown

Data provided by Pitchbook, accessed March 4, 2021
  • Ultimate Kronos Group in the $11 billion leveraged buyout round was the largest deal closed by a North American company in which an SEA investor participated in 2020. Formerly known as Ultimate Software Group, the company was acquired by Kronos through its financial sponsors Hellman & Friedman, Blackstone Group, JMI Equity, and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).
  • The following SEA investors also participated in other well-known USA companies:
    • GIC invested in Affirm, in its $510 million Series G round completed in September.
    • Temasek Holdings, a Sovereign Wealth Fund in Singapore, invested in Impossible Food in its $200 Million Series G round completed in August.

Investor Spotlight: Singtel Innov8, Singapore

Singtel Innov8, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Singtel Group, is a corporate venture capital fund based in Singapore with offices in San Francisco and Tel Aviv. Singtel Innov8 invests in companies that create next-generation devices and digital content services that enhance customer experiences. Their investments are in all stages of the company’s life cycle.

Figure 3: Singtel Innov8 Investments by Industry: 2018-2020

Data provided by Pitchbook, accessed March 4, 2021
  • Singtel Innov8’s assets under management were $256 million from 2018 to 2020, and they made a total of 128 investments. To date, Singtel Innov8 has done 45 exits and maintains 45 active portfolios.
  • Singtel Innov8’s preferred ticket size is between $100 thousand to $23 million, and their preferred vertical is TMT software. They prefer minority stakes and will lead on a deal.
  • In 2020 Singtel Innov8 made 12 investments with an average deal size of $36 million.

Deal Spotlight: Stack Overflow (Cloud Tech DevOps)

Stack Overflow is a New York-based Series E company that provides an online community created to help developers learn and share their knowledge. The platform is a free and open forum that hosts a collaborative library of coding knowledge, which includes real-time interactive software, advertising opportunities, and services for technology recruiters helping users build their careers in tech.

SEA Investors Feature: Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC)

GIC is a global investment management firm established in 1981 to manage Singapore’s foreign reserves. GIC invests in public and private equity with a focus on healthcare, financials, and business services. Additionally, it focuses on natural resources, real estate, fixed income, and alternative markets including foreign exchange, commodity, and money market sectors across the globe.

  • GIC led Stack Overflow’s $85 million Series E round on July 28, 2020, putting the company’s post-money valuation at $685 million.

Most Southeast Asian investors initially invest in USA-based companies at Series C round and later. Singapore sovereign wealth funds like Temasek Holdings and venture funds such as Wavemaker Group were active investors in USA-based companies’ capital raise during 2020.

The US Government’s Debt-to-GDP Ratio Is Worse Than Greece’s Before the 2008 Crash

The US Government’s Debt-to-GDP Ratio Is Worse Than Greece’s Before the 2008 Crash

The USA’s Debt-to-GDP Ratio is rising. The managing editor of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Jonathan Miltimore, quotes our managing director, Joshua Jahani.


Joshua Jahani on S&P Reaching 4,000

Joshua Jahani on S&P Reaching 4,000

In this episode of BBC Newsday Joshua Jahani talks about the S&P 500 reaching 4,000 (11:30).

Also in this episode:

Taiwan’s rail company says 36 people are known to have died, and dozens injured. Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi had already been accused of breaking COVID-19 rules and illegally possessing walkie-talkies—now she’s been charged with violating the country’s official secrets act. And the story of the Italian businessman who tried to fake his own kidnapping for financial gain, but ended up as a prisoner of a jihadist group for three years.

How to Perform a Disciplined Sell-Side M&A Process to Maximize Results

How to Perform a Disciplined Sell-Side M&A Process to Maximize Results

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Sell-Side M&A Process

The sell-side M&A process is long and complex. Bringing a company to market does not guarantee the company will achieve its M&A goals. The M&A process is challenging for three reasons:

  1. It is difficult to build consensus among a large number of stakeholders
  2. Gathering relevant, transparent, and adequate data is complicated, particularly in private markets
  3. The M&A process contains many steps, and within each step there are many opportunities for things to go wrong

This report contains the step-by-step guide Jahani and Associates (J&A)—an NYC-based global independent investment bank—uses to maximize results for its clients. Each step in the sell-side M&A process is driven by activities, deliverables, and solutions.

STEP 1: Preparation to Solicitation

Preparation to solicitation requires the company and their investment banker to generate the artifacts buyers need to make an offer for the company. This information includes but is not limited to financial information, the growth history of the company, intangible asset information (e.g., customer relationships and proprietary technology), and the reasons the owners are selling the business.1 This information must be woven together and organized correctly so buyers can efficiently formulate their offers.

Industry-standard deliverables, such as a confidential information memorandum (CIM) and audited financial statements, are used in this phase to market the business to potential buyers.

STEP 2: Solicitation to Indication of Interest (IOI)

This is arguably the most important part of the sell-side M&A process. Reaching the sufficient number of solicitations to ultimately find an interested buyer is difficult and incredibly important, particularly in the lower-middle and middle markets. The volume of solicitations necessary is higher than most professionals expect. The methods to generate qualified buyer leads also vary based on the industry, region, and type of investment bank (e.g., healthcare investment bank, agritech investment bank, etc.). Solicitation is initiated with a blind teaser, using a code name in lieu of the company’s name. Buyers may request more information after the teaser—at which point a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) is required. J&A recommends only sending detailed material during the preparation phase to potential buyers after they have signed the NDA. For sellers to create a succinct and consistent story for all potential buyers at this stage, it is very important not to provide too much information.

Common sources of buyer solicitations include direct connections from an investment banker’s warm network, introductions and referrals from partners in the investment banker’s network, direct solicitations of qualified buyers determined from research (e.g., PitchBook), and target emails to qualified lists of buyers. Coordinating all four types of outreach is a complicated task. Figure 2 demonstrates common reasons for failure and how J&A recommends sellers and their advisors avoid them.

IOIs contain valuation ranges and general expectations of earnout. These should be negotiated as necessary to have a smooth transition from an IOI to an executable letter of intent (LOI). IOIs are nonbinding.


A site visit usually occurs while transitioning an IOI to an LOI. The visit is an opportunity for the buyer and seller to meet and conduct a deep dive into any outstanding items that need to be settled before executing an LOI. Since LOIs are legally binding, many buyers will require exclusivity after an executed LOI, which is also referred to as a “no-shop clause.” This means the seller will not be able to conduct sale-related conversations during the no-shop period and must ensure the upcoming due diligence will be satisfactory in order to close the deal.

STEP 4: LOI to Purchase Agreement, Including Due Diligence

Due diligence is often the longest part of the sell-side M&A process. Depending on the size and complexity of the deal, it may take up to 120 days.2 Due diligence is the process of affirming the information the buyer has used to make its offer and determining whether or not the company is in good standing with the relevant administrative, legal, financial, technological, security, operational, and other information in its possession.

Once due diligence is complete, executing the purchase agreement is the final step in the sell-side M&A process. These agreements can either be asset purchases or stock purchases. The purchase agreement is the binding contract where ownership officially changes hands. If due diligence went as expected, this step should be relatively simple. The changes that may affect purchase agreement negotiations are material discoveries in due diligence, economic forces, material alterations in the business’ operations, and management changes. It is very important for business activities to go according to plan during due diligence.

Problems and Solutions: Quickly Resolving Challenges Requires Deep Thinking and Preparation

Jahani and Associates collected common challenges that exist in each step of the sell-side M&A process and the best way to resolve them. It is important for M&A stakeholders to plan ahead and know where expected weaknesses may lead to exacerbated challenges.

It is imperative the investment banking team has a plan to resolve these challenges before they even arise in order to avoid disruptions or delays in the M&A process.

Preparation to Solicitation

Companies most often do not go from preparation to solicitation when seller management teams are not aligned or properly prepped for the sell-side M&A process. This can occur when multiple stakeholders are involved, particularly in companies boasting a significant capital raise. A seller may also not move to the solicitation phase due to major market forces negatively affecting business performance. If a business undergoes a change that materially reduces the company’s desired valuation, management often decides to postpone the process.

Solicitation to IOI

Fundamentally, solicitation to IOI is a sales process. Therefore, sellers and their teams are most prepared when they view this as a sales exercise. This is often the most difficult step in the process for unprofitable companies in the lower-middle market.


Moving from an IOI to LOI is a matter of negotiation and mutual understanding between the buyer and seller. A site visit is often used in between the IOI and LOI to develop a relationship between the buyers and sellers.

LOI to Purchase Agreement, Including Due Diligence

Due diligence is the process of confirming the buyer’s understanding of the business at the time they made their offer. Due diligence is time-consuming. Material information that changes the valuation and earnout identified in the LOI may be discovered during due diligence. This will be negotiated as part of the purchase agreement. Purchase agreements may be made for either cash or stock, each of which has its own tax, legal, and strategic considerations.

The Sell-Side M&A Process Is Challenging, but the Seller’s Success Will Be Maximized When a Disciplined Process Is Followed

The challenges, solutions, and KPIs in this paper are not exhaustive, but they provide an overview of the way to maximize success in sell-side M&As. It is important that all stakeholders understand the challenges they will face and how to alleviate them as quickly as possible. Establishing a consensus among stakeholders from the outset will also help mitigate any issues that may unfold. Focusing on a problem-solution-KPI framework gives transparency to the client and allows the investment banker to increase the size of their team while preserving client service and information sharing. Experience in dealing with these issues is paramount to successfully delivering M&A results, and that experience must be coupled with actionable outcomes.

Any business owner seeking to sell their business must carefully consider all these factors. Being aware of expected obstacles and how to overcome them early will significantly increase the likelihood that a company successfully completes a sell-side M&A transaction. The analysis contained herein is based on decades of experience and is included to support business owners across the world as they achieve a maximally successful exit.


In 2019, Jahani and Associates surveyed hundreds of business owners about successful and failed M&A deals, why they failed, and how those failures could have been avoided. J&A then compared these stories with its own processes and tools to determine the best way to anticipate and avoid these failures in any M&A scenario. The resulting analysis is this document that outlines common reasons for failure and how to avoid them. This document is meant to serve as a resource to business owners and other service providers to give the best strategic advice and service for their businesses or clients.


Jahani and Associates (J&A) is an independent investment bank located in New York, New York. The firm specializes in healthcare and technology and provides specialized M&A and capital markets advisory services. The combination of J&A’s unmatched skills in technology, engineering, and business operations allows the firm to create sustainable value for its clients. J&A works at the intersection of cutting-edge financial theory and business practicality. Creativity is highly valued within the firm, which allows J&A to continually improve the way businesses thrive.


1. Baird, Les, David Harding, Peter Horsley, and Shikha Dhar. “Using M&A to Ride the Tide of Disruption.” Bain & Company, January 23, 2019.

2. Buesser, Gary. “For the Investor: Internally Generated Intangible Assets.” Accessed November 22, 2019.

3. Corporate Finance Institute. “What is the No Shop Provision?” No Shop Provision. Accessed November 22, 2019.

4. Deloitte. “Cultural issues in mergers and acquisitions.” Leading through transition: Perspectives on the people side of M&A. Last modified 2009.

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