Amazon Grows Middle East Footprint With Souq Acquisition

Spreading its empire to the Middle East, Amazon is buying Souq.com, a leading e-commerce marketplace in the region.

The deal was disclosed Tuesday but reported by multiple sources last week. The companies did not announce terms. Reuters, citing unnamed sources, reported that Amazon paid less than an $800 million last-minute counteroffer made for Dubai-based Souq by Emaar Malls.

The acquisition probably ranks among Amazon’s largest by dollar value. The company purchased live-streaming platform Twitch for $1 billion in 2014; shoe seller Zappos for $807 million in 2009; and robotics company Kiva Systems for $775 million in 2012.

Reuters reports that online shopping in the Middle East remains a relatively small niche in the region’s retail landscape, providing Amazon an opportunity for growth through the acquisition of 12-year-old Souq, which is expected to close this year.

Amazon senior vice president Russ Grandinetti said in a prepared statement that the two companies “share the same DNA—we’re both driven by customers, invention, and long-term thinking.”

Souq co-founder and CEO Ronaldo Mouchawar (pictured at top) added: “We are guided by many of the same principles as Amazon, and this acquisition is a critical next step in growing our e-commerce presence on behalf of customers across the region. By becoming part of the Amazon family, we’ll be able to vastly expand our delivery capabilities and customer selection much faster, as well as continue Amazon’s great track record of empowering sellers.”

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) shares were up about 1.3 percent in Tuesday afternoon trading to $857.79.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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