7 Portal Companies That Could Go Public in 2022

February 24, 2022
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By our count, there are currently 26 publicly traded companies out there that operate real estate portals. Behind the scenes, Online Marketplaces has been collecting data from all of them to present something special for you at the Global Online Marketplaces Summit 2022.

It’s a lot of work keeping up with the numbers from all 26, but it may be even tougher by this time next year. There are several large portal companies out there that we think could float on the public market over the next twelve months and generate shareholder value, especially if the performance of their peers picks up in the meantime.

 

Idealista

Real estate portals operated: Idealista (Spain, Italy, Portugal), Casa.it (Italy)

The idea of Idealista going public is not a new one. In September 2020, Apax partners sold Idealista to the Swedish investment fund EQT for €1.3 billion after reportedly becoming frustrated with a lack of progress towards an IPO.

The company enjoys a position of clear market leadership in both Portugal and its native Spain where it faces competition from Adevinta-backed Fotocasas. In Italy, Idealista operates the eponymous number two portal challenging at the top and since January 2021 has also operated number 3 portal Casa.it. 

As the company’s press releases are fond of pointing out, idealista is the clear market leader in much of Southern Europe. They may not be the most dynamic of property markets, but investors do always like market leaders, especially if their geographies are diversified.

 

EMPG

Real estate portals operated: Zameen (Pakistan), Mubawab (MENA), Bayut (MENA), Dubizzle (UAE), Lamudi (Mexico, Indonesia, Philippines)

EMPG's new CFO Julian Lafouge was at BlaBlaCar when a good deal of the talk around the board room would have been about an IPO - you have to think that those three letters come up in conversation every now and again in the offices of his new employer. The company’s latest funding round came almost two years ago, is it time for another, bigger one?

We already know that the company’s flagship portal in Pakistan (Zameen) is profitable and growing fast. The real estate development company Zameen has spawned has the backing of Pakistan’s government and could well flourish as the country tackles a housing shortage affecting 10 million citizens.

We also know that EMPG's model and portfolio dynamic definitely works on the public market as well. Fellow emerging markets portal operator FDV has been a public company for six years and despite having a smaller market cap, has generated shareholder value in that time. 

Local Dubai publications were fawning over their first local tech unicorn for months after the business achieved unicorn status back in 2020. Any potential IPO would mean another good news story for them and get a LOT of press coverage locally and internationally.

 

Property Finder

Portals operated: PropertyFinder (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon), Sarouty (Morocco)

Could EMPG be beaten to the punch and become the UAE’s first publicly-traded tech company? It certainly could use the money to fight off some stiff competition...

Propertyfinder Map

Its two great rivals merged in 2020 as Bayut and Dubizzle joined forces in the UAE, a market in which Property Finder is also having to deal with the new challenge from recently launched Houza.

In Egypt, where it claims to be the market leader, Property Finder is facing stiff competition from Aqarmap. 

PropertyFinder's last funding round was in 2018 and investors such as General Atlantic and Pegasus Capital might well be pushing for something big behind the scenes.

 

Anjuke

Portals operated: Anjuke (China)

This one is a little different from the others on the list in that the Chinese portal already submitted the paperwork to float on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange back in April 2021. According to reports in the country though, Anjuke’s prospectus is now invalid as time ran out to take things forward in October.

According to quotes from October attributed to Anjuke’s parent company, the Chinese generalist classifieds company 58.com which bought the portal out in 2015, the IPO was still due to go ahead. Nothing has been heard since.

The Chinese real estate industry as a whole has been suffering since the Evergrande crisis in the Autumn of 2021 effectively pulled the rug out from underneath the primary market. While diversified transactions based company KE Holdings has been shifting resources to interiors, fellow publicly-traded portal companies FangDD and Fang.com have both been reprimanded by authorities for share price issues and lack of timely disclosure respectively.

 

99 Group

Portals operated: 99.co (Singapore, Indonesia)

If reports from Southeast Asia are to be believed then 99 Group could be close to a merger with regional horizontal classifieds player Carousell, a company that has been openly flirting with the idea of going public for some time.

Merger or not, 99 Group will have its work cut out for it over the next few years and may need the cash anyway…

Not only did 99 Group’s most important backer (the Australian portal giant REA Group) go and sign for the other team last year by doing a deal with its biggest rival, PropertyGuru but then PropertyGuru announced that it would be netting over $400m worth of ammunition thanks to a SPAC merger with Peter Thiel-backed Bridgetown 2 Holdings. 

99 Group has clearly been in the market for some good news ever since and a deal with the freshly minted unicorn Carousell might just fit the bill. Carousell’s founder and CEO Quek Siu Rui is on record as saying that the company has been assessing its options, which include a SPAC merger of its own.

 

Square Yards

Portals operated: Square Yards (India)

Founded in 2014, Square Yards is an Indian real estate marketplace that has been pretty active in terms of M&A over recent years. Apart from operating in India, Canada, The UAE and Australia Square Yards has also diversified its business model and has moved into rentals, property management, 3d tech, data intelligence and interior design.


In January several Indian news outlets quoted “a person with knowledge of the matter” saying that the Gurgaon based company has already gone as far as contracting the services of a bank for an upcoming IPO said to be worth around $200 million.

While Square Yards has declined to comment on the speculation for the moment, the shoe does seem to fit. Having grown quickly over recent quarters, the company went out of its way to secure $25 million in venture debt from Hong Kong-based ADM Capital back in July in order to pursue what it is calling “an accelerated growth curve”.  

Unusually for a private (for now) company operating in a developing market, Square Yards shares its quarterly financials and operations metrics with journalists. The company has quarterly revenues of around $15 million and has been EBITDA positive for the last 7 quarters.

 

QuintoAndar

Portals operated: QuintoAndar, Imovelweb, Wimoveis (Brazil), Zonaprop (Argentina), Plusvalia (Ecuador), Compreoalquile (Panama), adondevivir (Peru), inmuebles24 (Mexico), conlallave (Venezuela)

The last big piece of industry news in 2021 was that the disruptive PropTech Brazilian unicorn QuintoAndar was buying out all of the real estate portals operated by long time South American regional leader Navent. 

Navent Portals

The acquisition is enormous in both its scale and ambition. While Navent’s portals were far from unsophisticated themselves, with the technology and transactional know-how that QuintoAndar has been pioneering, the stated goal of “bring[ing] real estate companies closer to consumer expectations” might be a reality on property portals in South America soon.

Since its foundation by Gabriel Braga and Andre Penha in 2012, QuintoAndar has had great success in digitizing rental transactions in its home city of Sao Paulo and across Brazil in recent years and has expanded into sales transactions with success since 2019 as well.

The company has raised a staggering three-quarters of a billion dollars to date and as of its $300 million Series E round in May was valued at $4 billion. The company is scaling fast and will need even more fuel for the engines very soon.

The calibre of investors attracted to regional businesses with a similarly transactional model (Jeff Bezos funded La Haus, for example) is a testament to the opportunity that disruptive transactional real estate marketplaces have in the region. Wall Street would undoubtedly love this one to happen.

February 24, 2022
Edmund got to know the world of portals and marketplaces working at Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect after the buyout in 2018). He worked directly with hundreds of portals across the world in his role in the content department for three and a half years before transferring to the SEO department to understand the inner workings of listings sites. He joined Online Marketplaces as Head of Content in March 2020.

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