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Amazon Acquires Middle Eastern E-Commerce Site Souq

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Amazon

Amazon announced today that it will purchase Souq.com, dubbed by some the “Amazon of the Middle East.”

Souq.com is the largest online retail and marketplace platform in the Arab world, featuring more than 8.4 million products across 31 categories. Souq.com says it attracts 45 million visits per month, and has localized operations in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.

“We are guided by many of the same principles as Amazon, and this acquisition is a critical next step in growing our e-commerce presence on behalf of customers across the region,” said Souq.com CEO and co-founder Ronaldo Mouchawar. “By becoming part of the Amazon family, we’ll be able to vastly expand our delivery capabilities and customer selection much faster, as well as continue Amazon’s great track record of empowering sellers.”

Details of the transaction were not made public but sources close to the deal tell the Wall Street Journal the business is worth around $700 million, down from the $1 billion valuation from Souq’s last round of funding. Amazon beat out Emaar Malls—owner of Dubai Mall, one of the Middle East’s largest shopping centers and biggest purveyor of luxury goods—which reportedly made a $800 million offer.

In a document seen by Reuters, deal advisor Goldman Sachs said the acquisition would accelerate Amazon’s entry into “attractive Middle East countries with significant growth potential given e-commerce only represents (roughly) 2 percent of retail sales.”

The Souq acquisition represents a large and rare move for the company, potentially one that acknowledges the difficulty of breaking into new markets, as seen with Amazon’s efforts in China and India.

“Amazon and Souq.com share the same DNA—we’re both driven by customers, invention, and long-term thinking,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon senior vice president, International Consumer. “We’re looking forward to both learning from and supporting them with Amazon technology and global resources. And together, we’ll work hard to provide the best possible service for millions of customers in the Middle East.”

The deal is expected to close this year.

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