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Why Tunisian InstaDeep’s $682m exit may not mark Maghreb's turning point

While mega exits have historically upturned ecosystems across the world, Tunisia and the Maghreb region contain hurdles that make such shifts less likely.
 ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images

InstaDeep, a Tunisian artificial intelligence startup, announced its exit to BioNTech, a German next-generation immunotherapy company, in a deal worth £562 million ($697 million) Jan. 10. The German vaccine maker will pay a total upfront of £362 million ($449 million) in cash and shares, and the remaining £200 million ($248 million) will be paid out depending on InstaDeep’s future performance. This deal, expected to be closed by the first half of 2023, comes after BioNTech participated in InstaDeep’s $100 million Series B funding round in January 2022.

The deal is the biggest publicly disclosed acquisition in the African startups ecosystem and likely the second biggest in the Middle East, after Careem's $3.1 billion exit to Uber in 2019. This deal might be the game-changer the Maghreb region needs to unlock the next growth stage, three operators — Noureddine Tayebi of Algerian Yassir, Ismail Belkhayat of Moroccan Chari, and Grégoire de Padirac of Orange Venture — told Al-Monitor in December.

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