Emaar Malls in Dubai is the operator of glitzy shopping centers across the Middle East and has made an offer of $800 million for Souq.com the online retailer in the region. This has set up a possible bidding war for the online retailer with Amazon.com.
Last week Amazon agreed to buy the online retailer Souq.com, but has not commented since the rumor surfaced that Emaar Malls had offered more.
The bid my Emaar Malls has not yet been accepted by the retailer’s shareholders, said the firm on Monday.
If the bid is successful, it would give Emaar more of a footing in consumer and retail behavior said a research analyst based in Dubai.
This bid by Emaar is the most recent by Mohammed Alabbar a billionaire from Dubai who is the chairman of the largest developer publicly listed Emaar Properties, of which Emaar Malls is a retail unit.
Last year Alabbar raised over $1 billion from investors in the region including the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to set up Noon its own e-commerce company for the Middle East.
Leading up to an announcement of its plans for Noon, Alabbar held a meeting with Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon in Dubai. That led to speculation that a partnership of some sort would take place.
Noon, which announced it would launch with over 20 million products, quietly missed its launch date of January and has yet to make a comment about its delayed launch.
Buying Souq.com would help Emaar access much needed infrastructure and assets that include ones in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia which would help it to retain customer across and drive out any competition.
Dubai Malls, which is operated by Emaar Malls, represents 50% of the luxury goods spending in the emirates and is one of the largest shopping centers in the Middle East.
Analysts said that the retail division of Emaar would help to strengthen its case for online retail for brick and mortar traditional retailers, through providing an online retail avenue.
Alabbar has other investments he has made in e-commerce and technology, taking a stake in Aramex a regional logistics company in 2016 and is now establishing a joint venture with Yoox Net-a-Porter following his purchase of 4% in the online retailer from Italy for €100 million last April.
The billionaire is also planning to develop a phone messaging service in the Middle East that is similar to WhatsApp the popular app used on smartphones.