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  • التاريخ
    23-Mar-2005

THCG Funds Al-Bawaba

Internet - THCG, Inc. (NASDAQ:THCG) today announced that together with its venture funding vehicle, THCG Venture Partners I ("THCG Ventures"), have committed $3 million to Al-Bawaba.com, Inc., a US corporation registered in the State of Delaware with offices in London and the Middle East, in exchange for an 18% ownership stake. Al-Bawaba Inc. is positioning itself to become the leading online portal across the Middle East and will be establishing the infrastructure for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) commerce opportunities throughout the region.

Al-Bawaba is targeting a market of 370 million people in 21 Middle Eastern countries. The Company will provide basic and new media content in both Arabic and English on a wide range of topics including business, sports, religion, entertainment and politics. Al-Bawaba will provide advertisers and merchants with the opportunity to target an audience with a highly desirable demographic profile. The Company's competitive advantages lie in its ability to leverage its relationships across the entire Middle East, access the largest and most relevant databases of economic and business activities in the numerous regions of the Arab World, and the experience of its highly qualified management and personnel. Revenue will be generated from advertising, e-commerce, access fees and license fees from newspapers, magazines and other institutions around the world seeking to use the site's content.

Al-Bawaba chose Amman, the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, to be the location of its Content Division headquarters. Amman enjoys close geographic proximity to all major capitals of the Arab World, along with a competitive business arena and a liberal political environment. Under the direction of Ramzi E. Khoury, Editor in Chief of Al-Bawaba and former chief editor of The Arab Daily newspaper, a team of professional journalists all across the Middle East will cover news and supply information in an operation that is the first of its kind in the region.

"The concept of top level journalists working exclusively for the Internet has never before been implemented in the Middle East," says Khoury adding, "We have managed to attract some of the Middle East's best writers and commentators through our commitment and dedication to the highest professional standards. For us in the Middle East, the Internet is a vast new zone that is not under the regulation of any special interest party. It is a space free of political, social, business or other hegemonies, and as such offers immense promise to journalists."

In addition to news, Al-Bawaba will be offering its visitors a wide array of high level content including but not limited to opinion and commentary, sports, health, technology, literature, entertainment, business and economy information unavailable today on the Internet. A selection of advanced Internet services will also be available, making Al-Bawaba the internet choice of the inhabitants of the Middle East, as well as of people throughout the world with an interest in this exciting region. The Content Division of Al-Bawaba in Amman is expected to start operations in May 2000. A development website is already online, and the company is adding new sections and services on a daily basis. The company is also opening additional offices in several capitals in the Arab World.

Larry Smith, President of THCG, Inc. said, "Al-Bawaba is uniquely positioned to gain a leading market share in the Middle East. No other Middle Eastern portal that we are aware of has this combination of in-country information sources, business acumen and personnel. We estimate there are currently two million Internet users in the region, growing at 8% per month. Al-Bawaba's two-fold B2B and B2C strategy will provide users with the most timely and relevant information available anywhere in the world on the Middle East."

"The initial commitment of $3 million is just the beginning. THCG has retained the right to provide additional capital for Al-Bawaba as its business develops. This complements our venture banking strategy in addition to investing capital in exchange for significant equity ownership interests. As THCG continues to execute on its venture funding strategy it intends to realize substantial returns from these early-stage commitments. It is our belief that Al-Bawaba has the potential to be a truly significant force in shaping the direction of the online world in the Middle East and represents our commitment to funding and establishing relationships with first-class companies and management teams from across the globe," said Ziad Abdelnour Managing Director of THCG, Inc. Mr. Abdelnour, who has been on the Advisory Board of the Company for the last year, will be assuming the position of interim-Chief Executive Officer until his replacement is identified. There are several candidates that are currently being considered.

About THCG

THCG is a global active Internet incubation firm that provides venture development, venture banking and venture funding products and services. THCG's mission is to build dominant companies by partnering with leading Internet entrepreneurs and traditional brick and mortar companies migrating to the Internet. THCG has partnered with a portfolio of Internet-related companies, including Global Credit Services, Inc. (www.globalcreditservices.com), Globecom Interactive, Inc., IT Utility, Inc. (www.itutility.com), and Test University, Inc. THCG also has equity interests in a number of additional Internet-related companies, which includes: Convergence MediaGroup, Inc (www.cmg-us.com), Designer Jewelry On Line, iBeauty.com (www.ibeauty.com), Interleaf, Inc. (NASDAQ:LEAF, www.interleaf.com), LogNet Systems Inc. (www.lognet.co.il), Passport New Media, Inc. (www.yourownworld.com), TechOnLine,Inc. (www.techonline.com) RealTimeImage Inc. (www.realtimeimage.com), SoftWatch Ltd. (www.softwatch.com), SunShine Media Corporation (www.bikini.com) and webMethods, Inc. (NASDAQ:WEBM www.webmethods.com). THCG's web site is located at www.thcg.com.

About Al-Bawaba, Inc.

Al-Bawaba Inc. is a US corporation registered in the State of Delaware, with offices in London and the Middle East. The company is positioning itself to become the leading online portal serving the Middle East. This portal will target regionally oriented audiences both inside and outside the Middle East with a variety of online services, web-based communities and access to online shopping. The Company will launch both English and Arabic language portals and expand into other languages in the near future. It will create extensive user interaction, gaining increased exposure, enhanced targeting ability and high user loyalty.

"SAFE HARBOR" STATEMENT UNDER THE PRIVATE SECURITIES LITIGATION REFORM ACT OF 1995: The statements contained in this release which are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those set forth in or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include the Company's entry into new commercial businesses, the risk of obtaining financing, risks associated with startup or early stage enterprises, and other risks described in the Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.