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Monday, May 23, 2016

Pakistani, French investors acquire Iranian property portal iHome

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > PAKISTAN Pakistani, French investors acquire Iranian property portal iHome By Osman HusainPublished: May 23, 2016 Tech in Asia Publishing Partner 2 SHARES SHARE TWEET EMAIL Emerging Markets Property Group is parent company of Zameen and Bayut with a concentration on Pakistan and UAE. PHOTO: TECH IN ASIA Emerging Markets Property Group is parent company of Zameen and Bayut with a concentration on Pakistan and UAE. PHOTO: TECH IN ASIA Gilles Blanchard and Imran Ali Khan, the chairman and co-founder of Emerging Markets Property Group respectively, announced on Sunday that they have jointly acquired Iranian property portal iHome in their personal capacity. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Emerging Markets Property Group is the parent company of real estate sites Zameen and Bayut with a concentration on Pakistan and the UAE. It raised US$20 million in series C financing in January with the money earmarked for ambitious expansion goals across South and Central Asia. Success story: Local property venture raises $9m in funding Zameen, the group’s flagship venture, was founded in 2006 and counts Patrick Grove’s Catcha Group as one of its investors. In 2014, the startup announced an undisclosed amount in series A funding from Kuala Lumpur-headquartered Frontier Digital Ventures. Gilles is a veteran in the classifieds industry after co-founding France’s largest property portal SeLoger in 1992, which was acquired by German publisher Axel Springer for US$846 million in 2011. He will take up the role of Chairman of iHome. “This is a familiar situation, one that we have tackled several times before, which is why we feel very confident and are certain about success in Iran,” said Gilles. “Iran is a market with immense opportunity. We believe in businesses being run locally and in paying attention to the local milieu. With that in mind, we are well into the process of building the strongest team in the country’s tech industry,” explained Imran. The Pakistan-born internet entrepreneur added that iHome’s team had been strengthened to 40 people. It would now be led by co-founder and CEO Mohammad Hossein Rafatnejad and based out of the capital, Tehran. Property portal: Zameen.com raises $20 million “We are raring to take this market by storm,” said Hossein in an emailed statement. Despite years of crippling sanctions, which were only partly lifted recently, Iran boasts an impressive internet penetration rate of 57.2 per cent. The country has almost 47 million online users with over one-third transacting online every month. Digikala, Iran’s top ecommerce site, employs over 900 people and is valued at approximately US$150 million with 80 per cent share of the online retail space. 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