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Yahoo picks up Arabic portal Maktoob; Bets on Middle East as emerging market

Yahoo, in a move to expand into emerging markets, has acquired Maktoob, an Arabic portal with more than 16.5 million unique users. The company is betting on emerging markets where Internet adoption is in its infancy.
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Written by Larry Dignan on

Yahoo, in a move to expand into emerging markets, said Tuesday it has acquired Maktoob, an Arabic portal with more than 16.5 million unique users.

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said in a statement (Techmeme) that the purchase accelerates the company's strategy "of expanding in high-growth emerging markets where we believe Yahoo has unparalleled opportunity to become the destination of choice for consumers."

In a blog post, Yahoo's Keith Nilsson, senior vice president of emerging markets, said the Maktoob acquisition is about expanding the company's international footprint. Yahoo is also interested in expanding in Latin America, Southeast Asia, India and Africa.

This deal is part of Yahoo!’s broader strategy to grow our international business, particularly in emerging markets. In many countries, vast populations — and advertisers — are just starting to come online.

Coupled with the company's new look for its search and its instant messenger service, Yahoo if focusing on its core.

Maktoob reaches one in three people online in the Arab world---notably the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Yahoo plans to layer in Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo Mail services and form editorial teams focused on local issues by country.

The Middle East is a hot emerging market as countries try and diversify away from their oil profits. Yahoo said that the Middle East is still in the early stages of online adoption. The World Bank estimates there are 320 million Arabic speakers, but less than one percent of online content is in Arabic.

Financial terms weren't disclosed, but Paid Content puts the deal at about $75 million to $80 million.

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