Qataris fund rollout of 75 City info pods

THE QATARI Islamic Bank’s British branch, QIB UK, has partnered with on-the-go media firm Renew to fund the rollout of a new round of information pods in the City of London.

Since first hitting the streets on 26 January, Renew’s 4.5-feet high pods double as recycling bins and information screens, updating City workers on the latest market and travel news.

And now, with a cash injection from QIB, the number of pods will quadruple from 25 to 100 (totalling 200 screens) before the Olympics.

Akbar Ahsan, head of corporate finance at QIB, told City A.M., “We’ve been in discussions since the end of last year. The agreement involves an asset financing line from our end which allows Renew to go off, order the equipment and get the new pods in place.”

Renew has a 20-year contract with the City of London – “so this is just the starting point of the relationship,” Ahsan adds.

This will not be QIB’s first mark on London’s landscape. The bank is one of four Qatari partners funding the construction of the London Bridge-based Shard and has a portfolio of real estate and corporate investments in the UK market.

Renew chief executive Kaveh Memari told City A.M., “We have about 30 to 40 shareholders on our register – including football players, City professionals and heads of banks – who funded the first rollout of pods.

“We’ll be reaching out shortly to companies and corporates in the City of London to enable them to use Renew’s pods as a news and announcement platform.”

Memari stressed this would be more like a Facebook wall for the City rather than an advertising platform.

He also said Renew has its eye out for a corporate branding partner – similar to the structure of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme – but has been told by the City to avoid “vile colours”.

“That could refer to a company that’s orange,” he said.

Renew is also stepping across the pond and will be planting pods in April around the Wall Street area of New York, with plans for Singapore and Tokyo to follow.