Souq.com Receives New Buyer, Naspers Limited

South African media group Naspers has acquired a minority stake in the Middle East e-commerce site, for a rumoured $40 million.



UAE-based online retailer Souq.com announced that it has received a new round of investment from South African media group Naspers Limited.

Naspers joins existing investors US-based Tiger Global and Jabbar Internet Group through a minority interest, the company said in a statement.

The company did not disclose any figures, but according to rumours, the deal was worth around $40 million.

Souq.com, which receives eight million unique visits per month, was launched in 2005 and currently covers the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait.

The site received a lot of interest from investors, Ronaldo Mouchawar, CEO of Souq.com, confirmed to Gulf Business.

“We have been lucky, we have a great brand. Our brand is really our ambassador, so there was quite a bit of interest in Souq. Naspers provides strategic partnership, they invest in e-commerce in emerging markets so there’s a lot to learn as well. For us its a great partner to have,” he said.

The new funding will support the growth and expansion of the Souq.com group of companies, including souq.com, sukar.com and run2sport.com into regional markets, the company said.

“We will use the capital from this investment to offer our customers even more choice with a best in class online shopping experience, expanding into new categories such as fashion and lifestyle and opening our own logistics centers in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt,” said Mouchawar.

Samih Toukan, chairman and CEO at Jabbar Internet Group commented: “This funding is a major milestone for e-commerce in the region, and is the most significant investment of its kind in the Arab world since Yahoo! acquired Maktoob.”

Yahoo paid $164 million to acquire Arab internet portal Maktoob in 2009.

The news follows a $20 million investment made last month into Souq.com’s rival, Namshi by J.P. Morgan Chase and Blakeney Management.

The Dubai-based e-commerce firm, launched in 2011, sells designer clothing, shoes and accessories and offers over 400 international brands to regional customers.