(Corrects year of Alabbar investment in YNAP to 2016, not 2015)
* YNAP, Dubai billionaire Alabbar plan joint venture
* YNAP to hold 60 percent
* Enterprise value of venture to be 130 million euros
* YNAP won't inject cash
* Alabbar this year bought 4 percent stake in YNAP
By Alexander Cornwell
DUBAI, Nov 28 Italian online fashion retailer
Yoox Net-A-Porter Group (YNAP) and Dubai-based billionaire
Mohamed Alabbar said on Monday they will form a 130 million euro
($139 million) luxury retail business in the Middle East.
The Arab world's youthful population and improving Internet
access -- the UAE and Saudi Arabia, for example, have smartphone
penetration rates above 70 percent -- mean the region is well
placed to capture the growing popularity of e-commerce.
YNAP said it will hold 60 percent of the joint
venture while Symphony Investments, an entity controlled by
Alabbar, will own the rest.
Alabbar bought into a 100 million euro capital increase by
YNAP through his Alabbar Enterprises, which runs franchise
operations in the Middle East and Asia, in April this year,
taking a 4 percent stake in the Italian company.
The new YNAP venture will initially operate in the six Gulf
Cooperation Council states, but may expand to others in the
Middle East and North Africa. It will operate from a Dubai
office and distribution centre and open by the end of 2017.
The business will manage all of YNAP's existing multi-brand
online stores in the region, including Net-a-Porter, Mr Porter,
Yoox and The Outnet, YNAP said.
Alabbar told Reuters that the enterprise value of the joint
venture would be 130 million euros, with Alabbar putting in an
undisclosed amount and YNAP not injecting any cash.
The Dubai businessman is chairman of Emaar Properties
, the Dubai government-linked builder of the world's
tallest skyscraper. Emaar's subsidiary Emaar Malls
owns and operates Dubai Mall, which accounts for 50 percent of
the emirate's luxury goods spending.
The Gulf's plethora of malls are overflowing with
luxury-brand shops as global brands such as Tom Ford and Gucci
have sought to capture rising appetite in the region for goods
ranging from watches to home decor.
More recently, Alabbar has been seeking to expand his
presence in technology, including online retail. He was behind
the investment firms which in July bought out founder Fadi
Ghandour's stake in Dubai-listed logistics firm Aramex
An industry source said at the time that the Aramex stake
was part of a strategy to build an e-commerce platform for the
Arab world. He also teamed up with Saudi Arabia's Public
Investment Fund (PIF) and other investors to launch Noon.com,
which aims to be an e-commerce payments and logistics platform.
(Writing by Tom Arnold; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Alexander