Over the years, Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) has aggressively expanded into global markets, such as China (through Alibaba) and Japan (through Softbank). Now, the company is seeing opportunity in another large area: the Middle East.
Today, Yahoo! announced a deal to purchase Maktoob.com. The terms were not disclosed, but the rumors are that the price tag was between $75 to $80 million. Maktoob.com, which gets about 16.5 million unique users, has enormous amounts of local content -- in Arabic (the locations include Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates). In fact, the site reaches one-third of online users in the Middle East.
All in all, the online market in the region is fairly small. Yet, the growth rate is rapid. Keep in mind that there are 320 million Arabic speakers across the world. In other words, there should be a big market opportunity, especially for advertisers.
Yahoo! should also provide some nice synergies, such as with its rich tools, like Messenger and its mail offering.
As online markets begin to mature, it's important to find opportunities in emerging markets. So, expect more deals from Yahoo! on this front.
According to the Yahoo! corporate blog, "It's easy to forget the fastest growing Internet audiences are in the emerging markets. That's not lost on us. We're passionate about growing our presence in places like Southeast Asia, India, Latin America, and Africa."