Thomson Reuters buys Mideast business site Zawya

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By ADAM SCHRECK, Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — News and data company Thomson Reuters Corp. said Monday it has bought Mideast online business information provider Zawya, the latest regional Internet property to be snapped up by overseas investors.

New York-based Thomson Reuters acquired Zawya from a group of shareholders led by Saffar Holdings, a privately held financial service and investment company in Dubai. Saffar confirmed the deal.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Zawya is popular among the Arab world's financial professionals. It offers Mideast company information and market data on stocks listed in Arab capitals such as Cairo and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Zawya also carries news from Thomson Reuters' competitor Dow Jones Newswires, which is part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Saffar acquired a majority stake in Zawya in 2001, a year after the online service began operating in London. Zawya later moved its operations to Dubai and set up the Dow Jones partnership in 2006.

The acquisition will not affect Dow Jones' existing relationship with Zawya, according to Dow Jones spokeswoman Kim Gagliardi and Thomson Reuters spokesman Tarek Fleihan.

Zawya attracts 750,000 unique visitors per month, according to Saffar. While some parts of the site are free, access to Zawya's premium services require a subscription. It has 200 employees in Dubai and Beirut, Lebanon.

Other Mideast-based Internet startups have also drawn attention from abroad.

In 2009, Yahoo Inc. bought Maktoob.com, one of the Mideast's biggest online portals, for $164 million.

The Sunnyvale, California-based company last month acquired a license to use technology developed by Yamli, a site set up by two Lebanese entrepreneurs in 2007 that lets users type in Arabic using a Western keyboard.

Online deals site LivingSocial last year acquired a Dubai-based site called GoNabit that offers similar deals in a number of Arab countries.

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