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Rocket Internet forms JV with Qatar telco Ooredoo to fund internet ventures in Asia

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Doha-headquartered telecom provider Ooredoo (erstwhile Qatar Telecom or QTel) has formed a 50-50 joint venture (JV) with German e-commerce incubator-cum-investor Rocket Internet to create and develop businesses across online retail, marketplaces and payment services in Asia.

Christened Asia Internet Holdings, the new entity will cover 15 markets in Asia that include Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia. The JV is expected to start operations in the second quarter of 2014.

"A fundamental shift is happening across our markets as more people buy goods and services online through their mobile phones. This is even more evident in our Asian footprint. We look forward to harnessing Rocket Internet's knowledge and experience gained elsewhere into making our joint venture an ecommerce market leader across Asia," said Nasser Marafih, CEO of Ooredoo Group.

"Our partnership will accelerate the development of Asia Internet Holding in the region and help our businesses succeed. We want to bring ecommerce models that have worked well elsewhere in the world to Asia," Oliver Samwer, co-founder of Rocket Internet, said.

Last December, Rocket Internet had formed a JV with MTN Group, a South Africa-based mobile telecommunications company, to extend online retail and other essential digital services in the Middle East region.

Founded in 2007 by the Samwer brothers (Marc, Oliver and Alexander), Rocket Internet already has a sizable presence in Asia, including India. The Indian ventures backed by Rocket Internet include Jabong, FabFurnish, PrintVenue and FoodPanda. Last July, Rocket Internet had raised $500 million in a fresh round of funding led by Investment AB Kinnevik and Access Industries.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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