Amazon has agreed in principle to acquire UAE-based online retailer Souq.com from its shareholders, Reuters reported. The Emirati company – the largest e-commerce player in the Middle East - had been valued at $1 billion in February last year, during a $275 million funding round.
Neither Amazon nor Souq have yet commented on the deal, but Reuters cited sources closed to the deal, adding that Goldman Sachs reportedly helped to arrange the acquisition. Earlier today, Emirati newspaper The National had reported that speculation about a potential sale of Souq, which had previously been circulating for months, but was stalled in January due to a dispute over the price demanded.
Founded in 2005 as part of the Arabic-language portal Maktoob, Souq.com has 8.4 million products on its site, currently dominating 78 percent of all e-commerce traffic in the MENA region. Now, the landing of Amazon in the region underlines the growing potential of e-commerce, which only accounts for 1 or 2 percent of retail sales in the Middle East.