Amazon is in talks to outright acquire Middle Eastern e-commerce site Souq for about $1 billion, Bloomberg reports. The news agency previously reported that Amazon was among companies interested in purchasing as much as 30% of the Dubai-based company.
There is no final agreement in place and the talks may yet break down, sources told Bloomberg, which noted that neither Souq nor Amazon responded to requests for comment.
Souq last month tapped Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to find prospective buyers for at least a stake in the company.
As China’s e-commerce market has matured, dominated by homegrown giant Alibaba and hampered by slowing growth, Amazon, Alibaba and other e-commerce companies are looking to other parts of the world for growth.
Amazon has been experimenting with various omnichannel and delivery services in Europe and is a major player in India’s booming e-commerce sector. The company also recently expanded its Prime membership to its Chinese customers, delivering a scaled-down version that doesn't include digital content streaming and offers free shipping only on foreign products that meet a certain price threshold.
Like India, the Middle East includes many areas with young, rising middle class populations, many equipped with smartphones and an open mind toward e-commerce.
Souq currently offers more than 1.5 million products to consumers in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Tiger Global and Naspers, among others, boosted their own stakes in the company in February, which led to another $275 million from investors, and are open to selling their interest, according to an earlier report.
Earlier this month, a consortium of investors led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced plans to launch Noon, an e-commerce venture slated to launch in January 2017. The site will initially offer about 20 million items curated for Middle East shoppers.