The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region's biggest real estate portal Propertyfinder has acquired Morroccan-based real estate site Selektimmo.com for an undisclosed sum.
Sarouty.ma, the Propertyfinder Group's Moroccan arm, and Selektimmo will remain independent as their positioning is quite different, but a merger is planned at a later date.
Sarouty.ma founder Ismael Belkhayat says Sarouty.ma offers "a service of quality for the real estate promoters" while Selektimmo focuses more on real estate agencies.
"This acquisition will allow us to have in our portfolio two different brands that caters differently to promoters and agencies,” Belkhayat says.
Launched in 2009, with financial backing from Moroccan HR platform Rekrute, Selektimmo focuses on building relationships with real estate agencies, while consumers use the service for a customized fee.
According to Wamda, Selektimmo founder and general manager Emmanuelle Boleau says the site is "not in race for the most listings".
"We capitalize on the agencies we have and that have been following us for three to four years,” Boleau told Wamda in May 2015.
Selektimmo needs a boost
The current Wamda report claims Selektimmo has been profitable since 2011 "because of good cost management".
The company has only three employees so couldn’t accelerate its growth among newcomers backed by foreign groups like Lamudi, owned by Africa Internet Group, and Avito which is owned by Schibsted Group, the report says.
When Belkhayat contacted her to discuss a possible acquisition, she was interested, Boleau told Wamda last week.
“It’s difficult for a Moroccan brand to have the same access to funding as those big groups on the global net,” she says.
“My partners and I took the decision to sell Selektimmo.com to Sarouty.ma because we wanted our brand to prosper.”
Boleau will remain as general manager until the transition is completed.
Wambda provides the following market analysis:
“For me, this (kind of) merger is the only logical step forward for a market that’s too small to host all those services,” Belkhayat told Wamda .
He predicts just one horizontal player, most likely Avito, will dominate the market, and one vertical, which he hopes will be Sarouty.ma.
Last January, Propertyfinder raised $20 million from Vostok New Ventures to consolidate its positioning in the MENA region and develop its activities in Africa.
“We realized that Morocco could be used as a hub to attack all the French-speaking markets in Africa,” Belkhayat told Wamda.
The priority will be on the Sub-Saharan African countries where many of Sarouty.ma’s clients are already growing, the report says.