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Souq.com said valued at $1b in fund-raising

Tiger-Backed online retailer says seeking $300 million for expansion

Gulf News

London: Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com, backed by investors including Tiger Global Management LLC, is seeking $300 million (Dh1.1 billion) for expansion, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

The fund-raising would value the business at about $1 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. New York-based Tiger Global and South Africa’s Naspers Ltd., another existing investor in the company, are leading the fund-raising, two of the people said.

Private market valuations of internet companies including Spotify Ltd., Snapchat Inc., and Uber Technologies Inc. have been rapidly growing, following the rise of publicly traded social media companies such as Facebook Inc. Uber’s valuation has more than doubled in six months to $40 billion.

Souq.com raised $75 million from Cape Town-based Naspers in March last year, in a deal it said at the time was the largest amount raised for an internet-based business in the region. That deal brought the total amount raised by Souq.com since its inception to $150 million.

The Dubai company, which operates a similar business model to Amazon, was established in 2005. More than 10 million visitors view its catalogue of products including electronics, watches, household goods and toys each month, according to its website.

The online commerce market in the Middle East will be worth $15 billion this year, with about 10 per cent of transactions on mobile devices, according to a PayPal Inc. report.

A spokesman for Souq.com declined to comment. Carolyn Sargent, a spokeswoman for Tiger Global at Rubenstein Associates in New York, declined to comment, while Naspers didn’t respond to requests to comment.

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