US site LivingSocial snaps up Dubai-based GoNabit

Dubai discount site says will triple its headcount, eyes expansion after acquisition
US site LivingSocial snaps up Dubai-based GoNabit
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Mon 27 Jun 2011 04:59 PM

US group buying website LivingSocial said Monday it has acquired Dubai-based GoNabit for an undisclosed amount as it seeks to take on rival discount site Groupon.

GoNabit will expand its brand into new markets across the region and triple its number of staff as it looks to grow its business following the acquisition, said its founder and CEO.

“We essentially enter a period of pretty significant growth. They [LivingSocial] have pretty significant resources; they are pretty active and they want to grow their international profile. We have about 40 staff right now, we’ll likely triple our head count by the end of the year,” Dan Stuart told Arabian Business.

“We’ll have a much larger presence in places like Egypt and in Lebanon but also going to new markets too. One market which we’re in is Egypt… its very much toe in the water [at the moment] so we’re going to make significant investment into that market.

“Saudi Arabia is a place that we’ll look to enter in the short term,” he added.

Details of the terms and conditions of the deal were not released but the firm’s founders will maintain their position.

LivingSocial also said it had acquired two other group discount websites, Ensogo - which offers deals in Thailand and the Philippines – and the Indonesian-based DealKeren. The firm will also launch its operations in the Netherlands, bringing the total number of countries in which it operates to 21.

The announcement marks LivingSocial’s second in as many months as it looks to expand the brand into new markets. The Washington-based website acquired the French daily deals site on June 1.

Group buying websites, which offer limited-life, no-strings discounts on items ranging from spa treatments, meals and hotel stays, have been gaining traction in the Middle East as merchants look to them to bolster their sales in the wake of the global downturn.

Groupon, which claimed 50 million subscribers at the start of the year, rejected a reported $5bn takeover bid from Google last year. The firm, despite being unprofitable, could be valued as much as $20bn in its planned IPO, analysts have said.

GoNabit launched in January 2010 and currently operates in the UAE, Amman, Beirut and Cairo.

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