Dubizzle has been fully acquired by Naspers, a South Africa-based investor through its subsidiary OLX Group, for $190 million (Dh697.7m).

Previously unreported, the acquisition of the remaining 49 per cent of the UAE classifieds site was disclosed in Naspers’s report to shareholders last June. Naspers had held a 51 per cent controlling stake since 2013.

A Dubizzle representative told The National, the business is run independently by its management team in Dubai and the acquisition had no effect on the company’s day-to-day operations.

The acquisition follows growing appetite among international investors for later-stage investment deals in the Mena region, according to start-up community platform Magnitt. It identified the UAE as the most active country in the region for venture capital funding in 2018.

Philip Bahoshy, chief executive and founder of Magnitt, said he “expects this trend to continue into 2019 as start-ups scale to get closer to exits”.

Dubizzle was founded in Dubai in 2005 and allows users to advertise household items, property and job opportunities. Eight years after launching, co-founders J.C. Butler and Sim Whatley sold a majority stake to Naspers for $120m and stepped down from running its daily operations.

Since then, Dubizzle acquired UAE-based start-ups Expat Wheels, Masterkey, Airlist and WeCashAnyCar and expanded operations in eight countries across Mena including Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

OLX Group owns stakes in at least 16 other classifieds start-ups including US-based Letgo, the UAE’s Shedd and Egypt’s Storia.


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