Amazon to Acquire Middle Eastern Online Retailer Souq After All

Amazon is about to buy Souq.com. Not much to say about this other than that it is classic international expansion.

Reuters:

Amazon.com Inc has agreed in principle to buy Dubai-based internet retailer Souq.com, one of the best-known names in the Middle East’s online shopping market, sources familiar with the deal said on Wednesday.

Souq.com, which sells consumer electronics, fashion, household items and other goods, lays claim on its website to being the largest e-commerce site in the Arab world. […]

One of the sources close to the deal said it gave Amazon a foothold in the region without having to deal with bureaucratic hurdles such as getting regulatory approvals from each country and signing up vendors and suppliers.

Another benefit may be the high price of some of the imports sought by wealthy Middle Easterners.

Bloomberg in January reported about Amazon and Flipkart walking away from acquiring Souq:

U.S. online retail giant Amazon entered talks with Souq.com last year in a deal that would have been worth about $1 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said in November. The Middle Eastern company’s existing investors include Tiger Global Management and South Africa’s Naspers Ltd. Souq.com appointed Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to find buyers for a stake last year, according to people familiar with the matter.

Souq.com became the highest valued Internet company in the Middle East after a $275 million founding round in February 2016, according to Standard Chartered Plc, which has invested in Souq. The company sells more than 1.5 million products online to customers in countries including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Flipkart has its own internal turmoil to deal with, so it never made much sense that there were talks about such a large acquisition outside the Indian market. (Maybe it was in parts just to drive up the price Amazon would have to pay? Who knows.)

The real question though in all this is: Where the hell is Alibaba?

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