Naspers, South Africa’s largest media business, is closing a deal that will see the company own a $40 million stake in Souq.com, a subsidiary of leading consumer e-commerce sector firm in the Arab World, Al Jabbar Internet Group.
E-commerce is now booming in the Middle East with total transactions per year valued at about $11 billion according to analysts. Naspers, a multinational with major stakes in top internet ventures like China’s Tencent Holdings, is cashing in on the opportunity.
The agreement between the South African-based company and Middle East’s Al Jabbar, is ready to be announced within the next two weeks, making it the largest internet and e-commerce investment made in the Arabian region since the 2009 sale of Maktoob.com, the largest portal in the Arab world; Yahoo! acquired Maktoob for about $165 million, which now functions as the Arab portal of the world’s second largest search engine.
Chairman and CEO of Al Jabbar, Samih Toukan said earlier in the month that his group was in talks with investors seeking to take a stake in the company which owns Souq.com, the largest e-commerce company in the region.
“We are talking to different investors,” Toukan, who also founded and later sold Maktoob, said. “The interest is there and we’re excited about it. Some of it is from [companies in] the region, some of it is from outside the region and is international,” he added.
“Every month we’re growing at double digits from the month before. E-commerce is happening now in the Middle East, it’s being conquered, a lot of investment is being put into it,” Toukan had said.
Naspers is a South Africa-based multinational mass media company with principal operations in electronic media (including pay-television, internet and instant-messaging subscriber platforms and the provision of related technologies) and print media (including the publishing, distribution and printing of magazines, newspapers and books, and the provision of private education services).