Property portal Bayut's parent company secures $150m investment

The funding round led by OLX Group values Dubai-based EMPG at $1bn

Netherlands-based OLX is becoming the largest investor in EMPG, securing a 39 per cent stake in a $150m funding round. Satish Kumar / The National
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Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG), the parent company of Dubai's property portal Bayut, secured $150m (Dh550m) in new investment in a deal that values the company at $1 billion.

The investment round was led by Netherlands-based OLX Group, which will combine its Middle East, North Africa and South Asia businesses with Dubai-headquartered EMPG, the companies said in a statement.

“This deal puts us one step further in our journey towards providing solutions in multiple markets to over a billion consumers around the world, expanding our classifieds offering significantly," said Imran Ali Khan, EMPG’s chief executive.

In addition to Bayut in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, EMPG owns and operates property portal Zameen in Pakistan, Bproperty in Bangladesh, Mubawab in North Africa and Kaidee in Thailand.

Founded in 2015, EMPG has grown at a “tremendous pace”, said Mr Khan, adding, “Our unique ability to scale using our proprietary tech has aided and enabled this expansion”.

As part of the deal, OLX will combine its operations in four countries – Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan and the UAE – with EMPG and will become its largest single shareholder, owning 39 per cent of the shares.

“As EMPG’s largest shareholder, the company will have a front seat to explore how we can scale their services model further," said Martin Scheepbouwer, chief executive of OLX Group.

“Our brands are household names … and currently help tens of millions of people to exchange goods and services every month. The next phase is exciting, with EMPG’s real estate industry expertise helping deepen the customer experience.”

OLX Group owns stakes in at least 16 other online classifieds start-ups including US-based Letgo and Egypt's Storia. It is a subsidiary of Naspers, a South Africa-based investor that acquired Dubai’s Dubizzle outright in April 2019 in a deal that valued the business at $409.5m.

EMPG will use the new capital to develop a range of services, creating a more seamless user experience, enhancing data transparency and expanding market intelligence for both consumers and business users, it said in a statement.

In Egypt and Lebanon, EMPG will operate the existing OLX platforms, rolling out new services for the real estate community. In Pakistan and the UAE, both groups’ platforms will be operated by EMPG. It will also operate Naspers' Dubizzle brand.

The aggregated value of properties sold in these markets is "estimated at $90bn, providing a commission pool for real estate agencies of $2bn per annum", EMPG said.

This presents an opportunity for EMPG to enhance real estate services in these markets, it added.