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EMPG (Bayut and OLX Group, Dubizzle) announced a Merger of 3.6 Bilion Dirham

Dubai-based Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG), owner of property portal Bayut, and OLX Group, owner of online marketplace dubizzle, have announced a merger forming a 3.6 billion dirham ($1 billion) Dubai-based unicorn startup, according to the government of Dubai’s media office.

The merger will see operations from the two companies in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia combine to create the region’s only independent unicorn company, a term used to refer to a startup with a valuation of $1 billion or more.

“Even in these exceptional times, Dubai has demonstrated its attractiveness as an international investment destination. Our infrastructure and business-friendly environment have created an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs to scale up their ventures in a community that is home to everyone from startups to Fortune 500 companies,” said Ammar Al Malik, managing director of Dubai Internet City, where Bayut and dubizzle both started, in the media release.

The deal is the third largest technology deal in the region in last few years. In 2017, Amazon bought online retailer Souq.com for 2.13 billion dirhams ($580 million), while last year ride-hailing company Uber bought Dubai-based Careem for $3.1 billion.

“This deal would not have been possible without the supportive business environment created in Dubai which has paved the way for companies such as ours to grow and expand both locally and in the region,” said Haider Ali Khan head of EMPG – MENA in the release.

In the online listings/classifieds space, the EMPG-OLX deal will speed up consolidation of the many competing portals. At the same time, there could be new entrants in property listings, with a set of estate agents in Dubai expected to announce their launches in coming weeks.

It’s not known whether the EMPG-OLX deal will now delay these plans. Bayut had been making headway in the last 12 months, mostly at the expense of Property Finder.

“With EMPG behind them, Bayut could score some decisive wins,” said a property broker who advertises on Bayut and Property Finder. “Any portal that can offer some competitive ad rates now will win in the long term”.

Alessandra Quarta Conte

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