Arab Business Portal Zawya is Expected to Be Sold Next Month For Tens of Millions of Dollars

9 Apr, 2012

A report has surfaced on UAE’s English newspaper The National that Arab business portal Zawya! will be sold next month for several tens of millions of dollars.

The National is reporting that several international and regional companies are involved in bidding process to buy the site. Among them Thomson Reuters, Emap whose Middle Eastern subsidiary owns MEED and the business site; and Crisil, an Indian credit-ratings agency. and Pearson, which owns the Financial Times. The Libyan government has minority equity in Pearson.

Gunnar Skoog, Zawya’s chief executive, told The National that several companies were negotiating with the owners of the site.
“We are in final stages in the sales process,” said Mr Skoog. “In four to six weeks we will have clarity on who the new owners of Zawya will be.”

The national is reporting that Saffar Holdings, a Dubai investment company that holds a 60 per cent stake in Zawya, last year appointed Arma Partners, a London consultancy, to advise on a sale of the portal.

Zawya has a partnership with Dow Jones to provide a newswire service in the Middle East. Dow Jones is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp empire.

The portal business model is via subscription service and online advertising and says it has “over 5,000” paying subscribers and 750,000 unique visitors to the free website. “Obviously we want to improve,” Mr Skoog told the national.

Zawya has 200 employees in the UAE and Lebanon, and this month launched a new website design and a new brand identity.

If this sales succeeded it would be the next largest sale in the history of Arab Internet industry after Yahoo acquisition of Maktoob in 2009 at around 150 million USD and would be the second exit this year after Saudi based Kammelna Games! has been acquired by Turkish game developer Peak games for 10 million USD in March 2012.

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