Exclusive: E-commerce giant Souq.com eyes IPO in next 2 years

CEO of Middle East’s largest online retailer says going public is ‘next step’ after several successful funding rounds
Exclusive: E-commerce giant Souq.com eyes IPO in next 2 years
By Yasmin Al Heialy
Thu 02 Jun 2016 10:34 AM

Souq.com, the largest online retailer in the Middle East, is considering an initial public offering (IPO) in the next 18 months to two years, its CEO has said.

“Our midterm goal is to improve the scale of the business, and maybe beyond that, in the longer term, would be to start looking at an IPO,” Ronaldo Mouchawar, CEO & co-founder of Souq.com, told Arabian Business.

“We have a lot of affinity from consumers and users and we always get inquiries in terms of how [they] can be a part of this journey and this success story of Souq - one of the ways would be maybe in the next 18  months to two years to look where a listing makes sense from an IPO perspective,” he said.

“Regarding capital, short-term we are in good shape, midterm and long-term [an IPO] would be the next step for Souq as the scale of the company would be quite sizable.”

“From an investment point of view, that would be the right approach after [raising] a sizeable fund,” the CEO said.

Mouchawar did not say how much of the company would be sold, or where it would be listed.

In February, the Dubai-based online retailer completed a funding round of more than $275 million, the largest financing of an e-commerce business in the region, from New York-based Tiger Global Management and South Africa’s Naspers Ltd, to support the company’s future growth.

Mouchawar said that the fund has been “invested in a bigger logistic infrastructure, [which has helped] raised capital and a part of that has gone into improving the infrastructure in the countries we work in, mainly Egypt and Saudi, where there’s a spread of population – the UAE tends to be small.”

“In this region, online [shopping] is still around 1.5 percent of total retail whereas globally this number is about 7 to 10 percent - we still see the growth opportunity,” he said. “Saudi continues to be one of our biggest markets.”

The e-commerce company, which covers 50 cities across the GCC and Egypt, is now adding more fashion categories to grow the selection on the platform.

“Health and beauty for us would be big category, along with electronics, but now home is becoming also very interesting,” Mouchawar said.

With around 2 million products already available on the site, the CEO said this number will double “over the next year and a half [with] more brands and more categories.”

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