The Dubai-based publisher Mediaquest has acquired the news portal AME Info along with a sister website dedicated to small businesses.
Mediaquest did not specify the value of the acquisition deal with Top Right Group, the previous owner of the sites.
Julien Hawari, the co-chief executive of Mediaquest, said the firm intends to develop the AME Info brand as well as that of its sister website SME Info.
“AME Info is one of the strongest brands in the business segment in the region. Mediaquest intends to help the brand develop further,” Hawari told Al Arabiya. “Mediaquest does not intend to merge SME Info with any of its existing brands. The region suffers from a lack of employment and sites like SME Info are fantastic ways to help entrepreneurs.”
The sites attract more than 2.4 million unique users monthly, according to a press statement on the sale. AME Info and SME Info will be redesigned prior to a relaunch in September 2013, the statement said.
Mediaquest already owns the online ad network Dotmena, as well as websites including Kippreport.com and Jeelnar.com.
“The acquisition of AME Info makes a lot of strategic sense for Mediaquest. Today with Dotmena, Mediaquest is the largest premium ad network in the region. The arrival of extremely strong brands like AME Info and SME Info will help develop further our business offering,” Hawari said.
Alexandre Hawari, the other co-chief executive of Mediaquest, said that a SME Info conference will be held to “celebrate the best SME in the region”, referring to small and medium-sized enterprises. “It will also help the SMEs to network with [venture capitalists and] angel investors to help their growth.”
AME Info, which was founded in 1993, is one of the oldest news websites in the Middle East. It was acquired in 2006 by Emap for a reported $29 million. Emap last year changed its name to Top Right Group.
Emap had made previous attempts to sell the website.
In March 2010 the company said it was considering selling AME Info because the portal did not fit with the company’s subscription-based business model, such as with its business magazine and website MEED. AME Info relies on advertising sales for revenues.
In August 2010, Lara Boro, then chief executive of Emap Middle East, told The National that the company had dropped plans to sell the site despite receiving several “multimillion-dollar” offers.
AME Info’s ad-driven revenue model was cited in the recent sale of the portal.
“Unlike MEED, the AME and SME websites operate to an advertising-led model,” said Matthew Wright, finance and operations director for Top Right Group in the Middle East and Africa. “[W]e believe that Mediaquest, a leading media group which has an existing portfolio of advertising led portals, will be a better long term partner for the websites than we can be.”
Lara Boro, who is now chief executive for Top Right Group’s international operations, declined to comment when contacted by Al Arabiya.
Mediaquest owns print titles such as Gulf Marketing Review, Communicate, TRENDS, and Marie Claire Arabia.
In 2009, the private equity firm Abraaj Capital bought a minority stake in Mediaquest. A year later Mediaquest bought five magazines from rival publisher The Media Factory, including Autocar Middle East and FourFourTwo Middle East.
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