South African internet firm buys stake in Dubizzle

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A South African internet company with prominent investments in the emerging markets has bought a stake in the Dubai-based classifieds website Dubizzle.

The South African media group Naspers Ltd, though its MIH Internet division, struck the deal with Dubizzle last year but delayed the announcement until this week, according to an executive at the Dubai company.

Naspers, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, holds 30 per cent of Tencent Holdings, China's biggest internet firm, and a stake in Russia's Mail.ru. Naspers is also listed on the London Stock Exchange.

The parties declined to specify the value of the transaction. "The deal closed at the end of June last year," said Sim Whatley, co-founder of Dubizzle.com. "It's remaining anonymous in terms of the percentage and size of the valuation."

Mr Whatley said that the investment helped Dubizzle in its "aggressive" expansion into other markets. The classified website is now available in 14 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. The site allows users to post classified listings for free, and derives its income from advertising.

Unlike in many other markets, there has not been much in the way of international investment in Middle East web businesses. The most significant deal to date was Yahoo's acquisition of the Maktoob portal for $164 million in 2009.

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