The Business Year

Samia Bouazza CEO & Managing Director, Multiply Group

UAE - Economy

Samia Bouazza

CEO & Managing Director, Multiply Group

Bio

Samia Bouazza is the CEO & Managing Director of Multiply Group, ensuring the group’s strategic development, a growing investment portfolio of high-return businesses, and sustainable growth within the group’s subsidiaries. Previously, she founded Multiply Marketing Consultancy (MMC) and grew it, organically and inorganically, into one of the largest marketing companies in the Emirate. She also serves as a board member for several firms in Switzerland, New York, and Abu Dhabi and is passionate about growth, disruptive ideas, wellness, and women’s empowerment.

Multiply Group will continue to grow its asset base and invest in a balanced portfolio of steady companies that generate recurring income and high-growth businesses.

What has been the journey of Multiply from starting as an SME to now?

We started Multiply in 2003 as a marketing agency in Abu Dhabi. Within 10 years, we grew into one of the largest locally grown agencies, enjoying exclusive rights for media who have dealt and retained with a lot of government clients. We have used the money we made in order to invest in other companies. We started inorganically, growing by investing in Viola Communications to have a bigger share of the market in Abu Dhabi. With the extra money we made, we started building partnerships with marketing agencies and digital marketing agencies around the world that had technologies that we did not have here in Abu Dhabi. We built a neuro marketing partnership deal with London-based Linguabrand, Social Fly in New York, SIS International Research in the US. This allowed us to access their technology, their talent, while being lean. This also facilitated our organic growth. Inorganically, we invested in Viola until two years ago when we merged our operations and decided to create one entity that is currently Viola Communications. Today, it is the largest and most holistic communications agency in the capital with exclusive media rights with Abu Dhabi’s government. Multiply decided to focus more on our inorganic growth, acquisitions, and diversification. In May 2020, we were acquired by IHC. We asked for funding, and we used that money in order to invest in more marketing technology companies such as Yieldmo and Firefly in New York and San Francisco. With that, we started to act and behave more as a group, where we have increased our portfolio and do not operate every subsidiary. When the decision, made together with IHC, to become officially a public company, we agreed that we needed to diversify our portfolio. We created a balanced portfolio to our shareholders, which is the final portfolio we went with when we listed our company on December 5, 2021. We reached about AED11.8 billion of assets under management and raised AED3.1 billion when we went for the listing, and that is how we are here today.

What are some of the main avenues this money will be invested in?

We plan to allocate the cash we have raised to invest into our five verticals. Our job is to identify the right opportunities that we can bring into our ecosystem. Within the verticals, we want to spread the investments, ideally equally amongst them all to empower each company that we already own with two things. Either invest in its competitor or investing in companies that provide technologies or ancillary services that are better. In this way, we can complement the way they operate by giving them an edge by bringing the technology to Abu Dhabi. We have specific investment criteria. We are focused on profitable companies, companies that are already mature in their growth cycle, and which are disrupting the way their businesses are done through the use of technology. We need to share the same mindset.

How do you leverage on the green moment when it comes to your subsidiaries and the organizations that you have invested in?

Organically, two of our subsidiaries in particular play a significant role in Abu Dhabi’s strategy of clean energy and renewables. First, our utilities company PAL Cooling Holding. District cooling, by definition, is 50% more energy efficient, and with the right technology and the right ancillary products, it can become even more. That plays a major part in saving carbon emissions. With regards to Emirates Driving Company, they are changing their fleet from normal cars to hybrid and to electric vehicles. This will all play a positive role in Abu Dhabi’s plans to cut carbon emissions and there is a good momentum. We will look to include a lot of low carbon footprint companies in our portfolio.

*This interview was conducted in March 2022

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