A Guide to the Rising International Acquisitions of Homegrown Brands
By Muhammed Aladdin
Throughout the last decade, the MENA region has been experiencing an economic boom despite the turbulent political atmosphere. The stability of some of the Middle East’s major economies in the aftermath of the Arab Spring has attracted investors from far and wide. Indeed, acquisitions used to be a staple of the economies of the U.S and Europe, but nowadays, more than ever, international players are looking to acquire a regional footprint.
Needless to say, the numbers involved are of astronomical values, giving us success stories to be proud of and helping the market mature through investments and intellectual capital.
The world’s largest businesses have developed an appetite to the authenticity of the MENA brand as in 2017 alone, 21 homegrown startups and companies have been acquired bringing the total number of acquisitions in the region between 2012 and 2017 to 79 exits. 2018, has seen an exponential increase with 10 acquisitions in the first half alone according to Magnitt.
Here is our list to the most notable M&As of the Middle East and the numbers involved.
Maktoob by Yahoo!
In 1998, the world’s first free Arabic/English e-mailing service, Maktoob, was founded in Jordan. The website gained traction and soon became an Arabic social network, bringing the people of the Arab World together. The website operated for more than a decade until Yahoo came and offered USD 164 million for acquisition. In a sense, Maktoob became the first of many of Yahoo’s ventures in the MENA region.
Zawya by Thomson Reuters
The “Bloomberg of the MENA”, Zawya, a UAE-based online service offering business information in the Middle East and North Africa was founded in 2002. A decade later, in 2012, the people at Thomson Reuters were looking for a way to diversify their audience and offer varied services. Reuters was eager to get into the MENA and Zawya was the perfect brand image, and so in a deal approximately worth USD 40 million, the latter got acquired.
Dubizzle by Naspers
Founded by J.C. Butler and Sim Whatley in 2005, Dubbizzle was the Arab World’s version of Craigslist and eBay. The MENA online e-commerce platform got acquired in 2013 by OLX, a firm owned by the South African media multinational Naspers. The consecutive rebranding saw a change in the website’s name from Dubizzle to OLX. The numbers involved in this M&A were unfortunately undisclosed; however, it is considered one of the most prominent acquisitions in the region’s history.
Talabat by Rocket Internet
The Kuwait-based internet restaurant delivery service, Talabat, was founded in 2004, and in no time, it became popular across Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, and the UAE. The growth of Talabat was noticed by the German e-commerce conglomerate, Rocket Internet. In February 2015, out of eagerness to get into one of the most attractive markets in the world, the German giant offered to acquire Talabat in a deal worth USD 170 million.
AMEinfo.com by EMAP
One of the oldest Arab companies to ever acquired, AMEinfo.com was an online business news website offering its services in both English and Arabic. In 2006, the U.K-based media firm, EMAP, decided to be one of the first to venture into the MENA market with an acquisition worth USD 29 million. The London-based company has seen the market’s potential growth and decided to invest in it as early as possible.
Souq by Amazon
Perhaps one of the most pivotal acquisitions in the region’s history, the U.S retail giant, and the world’s most valuable public company decided to enter the MENA region. In a mind-boggling USD 580 million deal, it acquired Souq, the largest e-commerce platform in the Arab World.
Carriage by Delivery Hero
Kuwait-based Carriage, a rapidly-growing delivery service in the GCC, has proven itself to be a sound investment when their German rival Delivery Hero decided to make it their second acquisition in May 2017. The Berlin-based company acquired Carriage for USD 100 million, becoming its arm within the Middle East.
Kngine by Samsung
One of the more recent M&As in the region was that of the Egyptian Artificial Intelligence company Kngine. The acquirer was none other than the South Korean tech giant Samsung who believes that through Kngine they can improve their next version of digital assistants for the better.
Careem by Uber
In numbers, this is one of the biggest acquisitions in the MENA region. For quite some time now, Uber has been looking to acquire their Middle Eastern rival Careem as the latter had a reportedly much bigger footprint in the region than its acquirer. The whopping USD 3.1 billion deal will give Uber virtual monopoly over the MENA region ride-hailing services. In a few months, once the merger is complete, Uber will have access to Careem’s 15 countries and more than 100 cities including many second-tier cities where Uber is not present.