Storytel AB (publ) (“Storytel”), one of the world’s leading audiobook and e-book streaming services, is acquiring Kitab Sawti, a leading audiobook streaming service in the Middle East and the Arabic speaking world. The combined line-up of Storytel Arabia and Kitab Sawti forms a unique offering of audio content production and distribution that will give consumers access to the biggest and richest Arabic audiobook library in the world.
Kitab Sawti is one of the leading producers and audiobook streaming services for Arabic content, operating a network of studios across the Arabic region and organising over 100 narrators. Founded in 2016 by Swedish entrepreneurs Sebastian Bond and Anton Pollak, the company has rapidly become a respected and popular advocate for quality audiobooks and cultural experiences in the Arabic speaking world, and thus a strong competitor to Storytel Arabia, which was launched in 2017.
“I am really thrilled and excited about the great opportunities that the combination of Storytel and Kitab Sawti will offer Arabic consumers, publishers, and authorships. Online media consumption is booming in the Middle East, as is the confidence local consumers are showing in digital products and payment solutions. The positive trend in customer interest for audiobooks that we presently see in the region, clearly indicates the big potential. And this potential is also reflected in the leading combined skills and experiences of Storytel’s and Kitab Sawti’s amazing local Arabic teams”, says Jonas Tellander, CEO and founder of Storytel.
Storytel is the #1 streaming service for audiobooks and e-books in Northern Europe with over 1.2 million paying subscribers and operations on 20 markets. Storytel also disposes over a vast library of more than 500,000 audiobook and e-book titles on a global scale.
Kitab Sawti, which achieved an annual sales growth of 79% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year, operates in the categories audiobooks, entertainment, edutainment, audio content production and podcasts. The company disposes over a strong catalogue of 2,500+ audiobook titles covering more than 80% of the regional best-sellers including works like Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Al Sanousi, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. The combined audiobook catalogues of Storytel Arabia and Kitab Sawti will thus form a unique offering of 5,000+ audiobooks in Arabic – the biggest and richest Arabic audiobook library in the world.
With this acquisition, Storytel establishes a new geographic business region, Storytel MENA. Sebastian Bond, co-founder and current CEO of Kitab Sawti, will lead and oversee Storytel’s business in MENA, which today consists of the Storytel Arabia and Kitab Sawti operations.
“We are really proud of what Kitab Sawti and our amazing team have achieved with our businesses in the Arabic region. I am confident that Storytel, with its technical capabilities, entrepreneurial spirit, and multi-market experience, will be an excellent owner and develop these businesses further. I am also eager to experience the potential that will be unleashed as we continue to fuel the passion of the consumers and the unique qualities of the Arabic authorships, publishers and cultural life”, says Sebastian Bond.
The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price which will not have a substantial impact on the Storytel Group’s finances. The purchase price will be paid partly in cash and partly through the issuance of shares in Storytel AB (publ). The closing is expected to take place on 10 July 2020.
Despite the current crisis, H1 2020 has seen $659M invested in MENA-based startups, which is already 95% of total funding full-year 2019. Discover more data, including country and industry trends by purchasing our H1 2020 MENA Venture Investment Report.