Emaar Malls Bids for Dubai's Souq.com to Challenge Amazon

Emaar Malls PJSC, the shopping-center unit of Dubai’s largest publicly-traded property developer, bid for online retailer Souq.com in a challenge to an offer made by Amazon.com Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

The retail division of Emaar Properties PJSC, run by Mohamed Alabbar, offered about $800 million for Souq.com last week, which includes a convertible deposit of $500 million, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the talks are private. Amazon has an exclusivity clause in its buyout talks for the online retailer, the person said.

A final agreement hasn’t been reached with any bidder, the people said. An Emaar spokesman declined to comment. A representative for Souq.com couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Emaar’s bid was previously reported by Arabian Business.

Emaar Chairman Alabbar is increasingly focusing on technology investments. He is leading a $1 billion technology investment company formed with other regional investors, and raised $1 billion from investors including Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to create e-commerce firm Noon. Alabbar bought a stake in regional logistics firm Aramex PJSC in July and 4 percent of Yoox Net-a-Porter for 100 million euros in April.

Amazon restarted talks to acquire Souq.com in a deal valued at as much as $650 million after walking away earlier this year, people familiar with the matter said this month. Souq.com was valued at $1 billion in its last funding round, people with knowledge of the matter said in April 2015. The retailer raised $275 million, making it the most valuable internet company in the Middle East, according to Standard Chartered Plc, which had invested in the company.

Dubai-based Souq.com’s existing investors include Tiger Global Management and South Africa’s Naspers Ltd. The company hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to find buyers for a stake last year, people said at the time.

Source: Bloomberg