UAE: CompuMe & i2 bought out by CEO


UAE retailers CompuMe and i2 Mobile have been acquired in a management buyout led by chief executive Dikran Tchablakian.

Tchablakian had owned 40 per cent of digital and IT products and services enabler CompuMe, with the rest of the company owned by mobile provider i2.

Tchablakian has now acquired the other 60 per cent of CompuMe, as well as 100 per cent of i2’s operation in the UAE, making an undisclosed investment in the venture.

Tchablakian said the i2 group’s operations are split across 21 countries, and are being sold to local partners. This retail-only deal only covers i2’s operations in the UAE; outside the UAE, i2’s shareholding is different.

“The buyout will allow us to focus on the growth of the company and its expansion. We will now use the synergies of both firms to create more powerful brands,” Tchablakian told Mobile News.

The deal was brokered by the Arab Emirates Investment Bank. Director of investment banking Michael Pastores said: “The buyout and merger will empower the new company to play a more dominant role in the region.”

Tchablakian reiterated the deal does not cover distribution but is purely retail, although he was coy regarding the future. “Retail is what we want, and is really quite important. Would we get into distribution? That’s in the future.”

The combined CompuMe and i2 retail entity now has 17 outlets, the majority of which are located in Virgin Megastores.  The firm has unveiled plans to extend its partnership with Virgin Megastores across the Middle East, offering IT, digital and mobile phones sales support. There are plans for five new Virgin Megastores in Egypt.

“Virgin Megastores will help us reinforce our leadership and market reach, driven by our extensive experience and market knowledge,” Tchablakian added.

Virgin Megastores new business manager Toufic Eido said:  “It was natural for us to tie up with CompuMe & i2 to provide the best technologies in IT and mobile phones in the region.”

Tchablakian worked previously in electronics retailing in France and Italy, before moving to the Middle East in 1983 to work with Al Alamiah in Kuwait and later in Saudi Arabia, engaged in the distribution and marketing of computer products.

He went on to establish 50 retail showrooms for SAKHR in the Kingdom. In 1995, he moved to Dubai and launched IT dealer NewTek, later expanded into IT services company EJADA.

In 1998, Tchablakian founded CompuMe, starting franchise operations covering UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain.

Tchablakian and retailer i2 began negotiations in December 2006 on a share-swap deal for CompuMe to be acquired by i2 Group, making the firm the biggest provider of combined telecoms, digital electronics and IT products in the EMEA region.

The agreement was finalised in January 2007, with Tchablakian taking 40 per cent of the UAE group.

The new deal sees him take full ownership of the UAE operations of both i2 and CompuMe. Local i2 units are to be sold off separately.