Japan's Cookpad to acquire Lebanon's Shahiya for $13.5M to enter the Arab world

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Japan's largest recipe portal Cookpad is set to acquire Lebanon's Shahiya for a reported $13.5 million in a landmark deal for the Arab world.

"We have always known that Shahiya's future should be aligned with such a global player," says Shahiya cofounder and CEO Hala Labaki in a statement. "Like Cookpad, we obsess over our users and the simplicity of our offering, and look forward to expanding and doing more for our community."

The move comes at the end of a year full of acquisitions for the Japanese company. Since April, it has acquired the English language app Allthecooks, the Mis Recetas site in Spanish, and Dapur Masak in Malay.

"This acquisition is in line with Cookpad's mission of leveraging technology to make everyday cooking fun and accessible to everyone," said Tomoya Yasuda, head of Cookpad International, in a statement. The acquisition "enables Cookpad to tap into the Arabic speaking market, continue to boost Cookpad's user base, and accelerate the global launch of Cookpad's recipe services."

Previously, Shahiya accepted $500,000 in funding from Beirut-based investment vehicle Middle East Venture Partners. Now, Shahiya's acquisition is MEVP's first exit. "We are very proud that [the exit] takes place via Cookpad, a listed company with global reach," says MEVP managing partner Walid Hanna. "This validates our strategy of investing in companies with the potential to become MENA leaders in their own vertical market."

As of October 30th, Cookpad entered into a memorandum of understanding with Netsila SAL, the Lebanese joint stock company which operates Shahiya. The next step will be a stock purchase agreement to be signed this month, followed by the closing of the transaction expected in January 2015.

This is a developing story; stay tuned for updates.

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