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Fund led by Dubai billionaire Alabbar buys UAE website JadoPado

DUBAI May 11 United Arab Emirates e-commerce and online marketplace website JadoPado has been acquired by a technology fund led by Dubai billionaire and Emaar Properties chairman Mohamed Alabbar, his spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters on Thursday.

The transaction comes soon after Amazon's acquisition last month of regional e-commerce website Souq.com, described by advisor Goldman Sachs as "the biggest-ever technology M&A transaction in the Arab world".

"JadoPado has been acquired by the tech-fund launched by Mohamed Alabbar, in the first of several acquisitions and partnerships as part of his digital/tech investments in the region," the spokesperson said, without disclosing a value for the transaction.

Alabbar is the founder and chairman of Dubai's Emaar Properties, developer of the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa. In August, a consortium of investors led by Alabbar were set to launch the region's largest technology fund that will hold $1 billion in investments and drive tech-entrepreneurship.

JadoPado's website was shut down earlier this month, with a message saying that it "has been acquired by a large regional business", without identifying the name of the buyer.

The e-commerce portal, which was launched in 2011, developed into a wider online marketplace that allows sellers to create their own virtual shops and sell directly to buyers.

JadoPado declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, but said it will be making an announcement in the coming weeks.

Amazon agreed to buy Souq.com for an undisclosed price last month, even after Alabbar made a counter offer worth $800 million to the regional e-commerce firm on behalf of Emaar Malls Group, the retail unit of Emaar Properties and operator of Dubai Mall.

Global consultancy firm A.T. Kearney says the Gulf region's e-commerce market is expected to grow to $20 billion by 2020, according to a report published last year.

Alabbar has increasingly focused on technology investments and e-commerce over the past year, buying a stake in regional logistics firm Aramex.

It is in the process of setting up a high-end Middle East online fashion retailer with Yoox Net-a-Porter after buying a 4 percent stake in the Italian-based online retailer for 100 million euros last April.

(Reporting by Hadeel al Sayegh, Alexander Cornwell and Nawied Jabarkhyl, editing by Ed Osmond)

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