Might be the Second Largest Internet Exit in the Arab world: Thomson Reuters Acquire Zawya

25 Jun, 2012

Following the news last April that Zawya is expected to be sold in a multi million dollar deal, Thomson Reuters announced today that it has acquired Arab world business portal and financial information service provider Zawya.

This news means that Saffar Holdings, a Dubai investment company that holds a 60 per cent stake in Zawya has successfully exited the company after its 2001 initial investment,

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but Arabian Business reported in May that the deal could be worth around $40 million USD.

Zawya was almost sold four years ago – just before the global financial crisis – for close to US$12 a share in a deal that would have valued the company at closer to US$80m.

Zawya, which was founded in 2000 in London, aggregates content across the MENA region and provides financial news coverage of the Middle East.

The company was launched by British-Iraqi investment banker Ihsan Jawad at the height of the dotcom boom, before relocating to Dubai and going into partnership with Dow Jones Newswires in 2006 as Arabian business reports. 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. Zawya has 200 employees in the UAE and Lebanon.

If the prise was $40 million This deal is might be the next largest exit in the history of Arab Internet industry after Yahoo acquisition of Maktoob in 2009 at around 160 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.

But what an exit? The company was founded 12 years ago! However t startups are booming in the Arab world and we expect some Arab Internet brands to be exited at high valuation or get an IPO.

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