Did Amazon Get a Good Deal for Souq.com?

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When word leaked out last week that Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) would purchase Middle Eastern e-commerce firm Souq.com for less than $1 billion, the Reuters report referred to the deal as Amazon’s acquisition of a “cheap, curious trinket.” The Financial Times had estimated a purchase price of $650 million to $750 million, and a later estimate cited at Fortune put Amazon’s offer at a paltry $580 million.

Amazon announced Tuesday morning that it had acquired Souq.com for an undisclosed amount. The deal is expected to close this year.

The deal was threatened Monday, however, according to a Reuters report, by a last-minute offer of $800 million for Souq.com from a Dubai-based Emaar Malls. According to Reuters sources, Amazon “is paying less than Emaar’s offer.” But how much less?

Souq.com has raised venture funding of $425 million since its founding in 2005, with the last round valuing the firm at $1 billion.

The Emaar offer included a $500 million upfront payment and “a guaranteed 15% internal rate of return for Souq.com shareholders,” according to a¬†Financial Times source.

Souq.com’s deal with Amazon was reportedly an exclusive, and getting out of it would likely have cost the Middle Eastern firm a breakup fee of some kind.

Additionally, Amazon is the big dog in global e-commerce with a proven track record of both success and a willingness to invest in making new initiatives successful. Emaar was supposed to launch an e-commerce site of its own, called Noon, in January. The site is still missing in action.

According to Crunchbase, lead investors in Souq.com include Tiger Global Management and South African firm Naspers. A guaranteed payday from Amazon, perhaps with an earn-out sweetener, was likely enough to seal the deal.

Unless (until?) more details leak out, we’ll probably never know. Amazon is famously close-mouthed about its business. The company’s senior vice-president of international consumer, Russ Grandinetti, said:

SOUQ.com pioneered e-commerce in the Middle East, creating a great shopping experience for their customers. We’re looking forward to both learning from and supporting them with Amazon technology and global resources. And together, we’ll work hard to provide the best possible service for millions of customers in the Middle East.

Amazon’s stock traded up about 0.1% in Tuesday’s premarket, at $847.79 in a 52-week range of $576.50 to $862.80. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $941.38.