Feb 7, 2023
Pakistani Digital Marketer for P&G, Colgate-Palmolive Plans IPO
(Bloomberg) -- Symmetry Group Ltd., a Pakistani technology company founded back when most of the country’s internet users were on dial-up connections, plans an initial public offering in March that could raise about 430 million rupees ($1.6 million).
The Karachi-based company, which specializes in digital services including marketing and whose clients include the local units of Procter & Gamble Co. and Colgate-Palmolive Co., will sell 78 million shares at a fixed price of 5.5 rupees a share, according to Chief Executive Officer Syed Sarocsh Ahmed. The offering will include 71% new stock, and the rest will consist of existing shares sold by the founders.
Symmetry was started in 2003 by Ahmed and his brother, Executive Director Syed Adil Ahmed, with an investment of 150,000 rupees — equivalent to about $2,580 at the time. They sold ads on websites and gave free consultations to Pakistan’s largest media houses, which were not geared for digital marketing.
“We saw a gap,” said Adil, whose experience includes a stint at Yahoo Inc. “Digital marketing was happening globally, it was the next big thing. It was not happening in Pakistan at that time,” he said in an interview.
The company now focuses on the digitization of marketing, sales and other consumer-centric functions. It generated net income of 71.3 million rupees in fiscal 2022, according to a document seen by Bloomberg News. That’s an increase of 24% on the previous fiscal year, Bloomberg calculations show. Its clients also include the local arm of telecommunication giant Veon Ltd. and the nation’s biggest bank, Habib Bank Ltd.
Symmetry’s rise reflects the growth of the industry as well as Pakistan’s internet users, who have more than tripled to 124 million in the past six years, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. More than 45% of Pakistanis under the age of 25 prefer digital platforms to media such as television, newspapers and radio, Symmetry’s research shows.
Digital spending on marketing in the world’s fifth most populous country has grown to more than 20% of the total, from 7% five years ago, said Adil.
Symmetry will use about 60% of the IPO funds to complete AI-backed products to deliver consumer insight and performance indicators, which will aid its international expansion. It is in talks with distributors in the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions, and wants to increase its overseas revenue to as much as 50% of the total in three years, up from 25%, said Sarocsh.
The company has received an approval for the listing from the stock exchange and will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan for regulatory approval this week. Topline Securities Ltd. is advising Symmetry on the share sale.
(Updates with regulator approval timing in last paragraph.)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.