DUBAI May 18 Noon, the internet venture of
Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar and Saudi Arabia's Public
Investment Fund, has been dealt a blow ahead of its launch with
the departure of its CEO and a number of staff, sources familiar
with the matter told Reuters.
Chief Executive Fodhil Benturquia was among the staff to
leave in recent weeks, the sources said, blaming teething
problems. They did not say how many staff had left.
"Due to the shift in our operational base and the need for
even greater efficiencies, there have been nominal staff
reallocations and changes,” a Noon spokesman said on Thursday,
without being more specific.
In a statement on Tuesday, Alabbar said Noon was on track to
launch in 2017 and was establishing partnerships with a range of
regional retailers, distributors and global brands.
"In the past few months, we have onboarded additional
expertise to enhance our management team and help execute on our
plans," he said.
Alabbar, a prominent Emirati businessman, said last year he
had teamed up Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and other
private investors to launch Noon, a Middle Eastern-focused
online shopping platform. At the time, he said Noon would launch
operations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in
But the venture is entering an increasingly competitive
market. In March, Amazon.com clinched the acquisition
of Middle Eastern online retailer Souq.com in a deal described
by adviser Goldman Sachs as "the biggest-ever technology M&A
transaction in the Arab world".
Alabbar-backed Emaar Malls Group, the retail unit of Emaar
Properties, had also tried to buy Souq.com
Alabbar, founder and chairman of Dubai's Emaar, developer of
the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, has increasingly
focused on technology investments and e-commerce over the past
year, buying a stake in regional logistics firm Aramex.
The Gulf region's e-commerce market is expected to grow to
$20 billion by 2020, according to a report by global consultancy
firm A.T. Kearney published last year.
In a further sign of his ambitions in the market, Alabbar
has bought a stake in Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), a
venture capital firm with more than $120 million of assets under
management, MEVP said on Thursday.
A technology fund led by Alabbar also acquired United Arab
Emirates-based e-commerce and online marketplace website
JadoPado, his spokesman told Reuters on May 11.
(Writing by Tom Arnold; Editing by Saeed Azhar and Mark Potter)