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Alibaba’s Finance Seek at Least $1.5 Billion

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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s finance affiliate is seeking at least 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in a second round of fundraising ahead of a planned initial public offering, a person familiar with the matter said.

Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group Co., controlled by Alibaba’s billionaire chairman Jack Ma, plans to issue stock to existing and new investors, according to the person, who asked not to be identified as the details are private. The firm, known as Ant Financial, is speaking to potential investors including insurers and other financial institutions, as well as private equity funds and venture capital firms, the person said.

Challenging bricks-and-mortar banks, the Internet-based Ant Financial runs China’s biggest online payment service, Alipay, and controls the company which manages Yu’E Bao, the nation’s largest money-market fund with more than 600 billion yuan of assets. It also holds a stake in MYBank, a private online lender.

Ant Financial was valued at about $45 billion after completing an initial round of fundraising in June 2015, the person said. The company may sell shares in an IPO as early as this year and hasn’t decided yet whether to conduct a third round of financing ahead of that, according to the person.

Potential Acquisitions

Ant Financial may use money from the current fundraising for acquisitions, the person said, without identifying potential targets. Ant Financial has already invested in companies including India’s One97 Communications Ltd. and Postal Savings Bank of China.

Miranda Shek, a Hangzhou-based spokeswoman for Ant Financial, confirmed a second round of funding while declining to comment on the amount sought or other details.

Prior to Alibaba’s record $25 billion IPO in September 2014, the companies struck a deal which locked in Alibaba’s share of the finance affiliate’s pretax earnings and set terms for Alibaba’s entitlements if Alipay or its parent hold an IPO.

In Ant Financial’s initial fundraising round, the company sold a 12.4 percent stake to outside investors including China’s national social security fund and China Development Bank Capital Co.

Bloomberg

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Africa Records Over 1,600 Weekly Cyber Attacks

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An average of 1,615 cyber-attacks has been said to affect organisations in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and other African countries, making the continent the highest victims of the attacks, cybersecurity solutions provider, CheckPoint Software Technologies (CST) says.

The breaches in Africa, according to CST, represent a 15 percent increase from 2020. The firm also disclosed that 2021 recorded a 50 percent rise in overall attacks per week on corporate networks globally, compared to the year before. CST noted that Asia Pacific (APAC) comes second place, with an average of 1,299 weekly attacks per organisation (20 per cent increase), followed by Latin America with an average of 1,117 attacks weekly (37 per cent increase), Europe with 665 (65 per cent increase) and North America with 497 (57 per cent increase).

The sectors which recorded the highest number of cyber-attacks were Education/Research with an average of 1,468 attacks per organisation, each week (increase of 60 per cent from 2020), followed by Government/Military with 1,082 (40 per cent increase) and Healthcare with 752 (55 per cent increase).

CheckPoint stated that one major attack was botnet, launched in 2021. The cybersecurity firm explained that botnet is a network of malware-infected computers that can be wholly-controlled by a single command and control centre operated by a cybercriminal. the network itself, which can be composed of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of computers, is then used to further spread the malware and increase the size of the network.

“The malware type that impacts organisations the most in 2021 is the botnet with an average of over eight per cent organisations being impacted weekly (a nine per cent decrease from 2020), followed by banking malware at 4.6 per cent (a 26 per cent increase) and cryptominer at 4.2 per cent (a 22 per cent decrease), ransomware 1.9 per cent and mobile 1.2 per cent,” CheckPoint said.

Warning organisations, CheckPoint claimed that the increase in multi-vector attacks designed to infect multiple components of an IT infrastructure in 2021, is alarming, adding that such attacks are the biggest challenge facing security practitioners, requiring effective measures to be put in place, such as preventing the attacks before they happen and employing a security architecture that enables and facilitates a single, cohesive protection

The firm advised that all attack surfaces and vectors in the business must be secured via a single solution that provides broad cyber security coverage, particularly in today’s multi-hybrid environment where the perimeter is now everywhere. Organisations are also to segment their networks, and apply strong firewall and intrusion prevention safeguards between the network segments. This, CheckPoint advised, contains infections from propagating across the entire network.

It further stressed that, “While there isn’t a single silver-bullet technology that can protect organisations from all threats and all threat vectors, there are many great technologies available, such as machine learning, sandboxing, anomaly detection, content disarmament, and many more. Each of these technologies can be highly effective in specific scenarios, covering specific file types or attack vectors.”

The cybersecurity experts noted that two important components to consider are threat extraction (file sanitisation) and threat emulation (advanced sandboxing), explaining that each element provides distinct protection. When used together, the threat extraction and emulation offer a comprehensive solution for protection against unknown malware at the network level and directly on endpoint devices.

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Fund Raising

SeamlessHR, Nigerian HR-Tech Startup Secures $10M in Series A Funding Round

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SeamlessHR, a Nigerian-based HR-Tech startup announced it has secured $10 million in a Series A funding round to expand operations to East African countries and surrounding markets.

The funding round was led by TLcom Capital. Other participants are Capria Ventures, Lateral Capital, Enza Capital, Ingressive Capital, and some private investors.

According to the company, the secured fund will take SeamlessHR closer to achieving its vision of helping African businesses become more productive and successful through its cloud-based human resources (HR) and payroll software.

The company also intends to launch products with functionalities around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Human Resources (HR) Data Analytics, this will strengthen the company’s position as Africa’s leading cloud HR and payroll platform.

SeamlessHR CEO, Emmanuel Okeleji said, “We are fanatical about customer success, and this funding will enable us to invest in the continuous optimisation of customer experience across all touchpoints, adding new features and functionalities to empower our customers even more.

Speaking on the new funding and SeamlessHR operations, Andreata Muforo, Partner at TLcom Capital said, “over the last few years, SeamlessHR has consistently demonstrated its ability to deliver a robust HR and payroll platform for Africa’s medium and large businesses”.

“The strong execution shown by Emmanuel and his team is a vital ingredient required to build a successful business, and as they expand their products to include embedded finance and launch their solutions to new markets, we’re proud to partner alongside them and strengthen their push to unlock more value within Africa’s B2B space.

“At TLcom, we believe SeamlessHR can be the preferred platform for businesses to digitise workplaces and support their personnel.”

Will Poole,  co-founder &  managing partner at Capria said, “SeamlessHR is addressing the needs of African enterprises in ways that the global giants can’t compete with by building customer-centric SaaS designed from the ground-up to address complexity unique to the continent.

“Now that they’ve proven they can address the needs of disparate countries across Africa, we are confident that they will be the solution provider of choice to support their customers that are expanding globally.”

SeamlessHR was founded in 2018 by Emmanuel Okeleji (CEO) and Deji Lana (CTO), the company presently has presence in Nigeria and Kenya.

Speaking on future plans, the CEO, Emmanuel Okeleji said, “we are building software solutions to optimize HR now, but in the future, we’ll go to other areas beyond HR. And we are positioned to build a global SaaS company because SaaS products can travel the world faster than, say, fintech. We’re beating global players in our local market and while we are not distracting ourselves now, we know we can play this game globally.”

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Nigeria Lifts Twitter Ban Seven Months After Shutting it Down

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President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that Twitter Ban be lifted seven months after the federal government suspended the micro logging platform operations in Nigeria.

The Director of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, who also doubles as the Chairman, Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement made this known in a statement on Wednesday, in Abuja. According to him, the approval for the suspension of the ban follows a memo written to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12am tonight, 13th January 2022. The approval was given following a memo written to the President by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim.

“In the Memo, the Minister updated and requested the President’s approval for the lifting based on the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement’s recommendation,” Abdullahi said.

It can be recalled that Twitter’s operation was suspended seven months ago, on June 6, 2021 after the microblogging platform deleted a tweet by President Buhari, where he warned those (believed to be members of the Independent People of Biafra- IPOB) destroying INEC’s properties and buildings.

Since then, there has been a back and forth between the federal government who demanded that Twitter open a Nigerian Office and pay taxes, and the microblogging service. However, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in November last year, revealed that correspondence between the federal government and Twitter had reached an advanced stage. He noted that with a few issues to resolve, Twitter had been able to meet 10 out of twelve.

According to British firm, Top10VPN, the ban had affected around 104.4 million internet users in Nigeria. NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool also revealed that the ban costs Nigeria’s economy N103 million every hour. A week after the suspension, many Nigerians took to downloading Virtual Private Networks to access their Twitter accounts in the country.

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