Media giant Thomson Reuters has confirmed the takeover of local online finance and business portal Zawya, in a deal exclusively reported by Arabian Business last month.
The value of the sale was not disclosed, but Arabian Business reported in May that the deal could be worth approximately US$40m.
“Zawya has built a strong brand and impressive offering in the MENA, and this acquisition builds on our commitment to this region which dates back to 1856 starting with news and expanding to comprehensive news and data coverage,” said Basil Moftah, managing director for MEA and Russia at Thomson Reuters.
“By joining forces, Thomson Reuters, Zawya’s clients, and the market will benefit from a unique offering. This synergy will result in an improved and diversified line of services across the MENA markets for a broader group of users.”
The future of Zawya’s partnership with US wire service Dow Jones remains unclear.
When questioned by Arabian Business as to whether the partnership between the two would remain, Moftah said: “You would have to ask that question to Dow Jones. But Zawya will continue to carry the Dow Jones news over its service.
Moftah was also unable to comment on whether there would be any lay-offs as a result of the deal.
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 news coverage of the Middle East. It currently employs 200 staff in the UAE and Lebanon.
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.
On top of its subscription service, the Zawya website attracts 750,000 visitors a month. With full membership costing less than US$6,000 a year, it is priced much lower than other information services providers like Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters, both of which have been expanding in the Middle East.
In 2009, Yahoo!, which runs the second-most popular internet search engine, agreed to buy Arabic-language internet venture Maktoob.com, the largest portal in the Arab world, for about US$165m.
Saffar Holdings had acquired a 60 percent stake in Zawya in 2001 and appointed corporate finance advisory company Arma Partners last October to advise on the sale of the portal.