Four Way Joint Venture to Transform Swiss Classifieds Sector

September 1, 2021
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Four companies have come together to create a new classifieds marketplace business that looks set to dominate in Switzerland. Essentially a fusion of two native Swiss classifieds operators TX Markets and Scout24 Schweiz, the joint venture will be minority-owned by 4 different companies. The 4 companies involved in the new JV are:

 

TX Group - The Zurich based media group owns over 50 brands including marketplaces Tutti and Ricardo as well as property vertical Homegate and autos vertical Car For You.

Ringier - Together with die Mobiliar, Ringier owns Swiss classifieds operator Scout24 Schweiz which operates the ImmoScout24, AutoScout24, MotoScout24, FinanceScout24 and anibis.ch platform. Ringier bought a 50% stake in the company in 2014 alongside KKR.

die Mobiliar - The oldest insurance provider in Switzerland bought out KKR's 50% stake in Scout24 Schweiz in 2016. it also bought property vertical site Flatfox in April 2021.

General Atlantic - The investment firm is coming on board to help the newly formed venture with all of its experience in the field of online classifieds (it has experience with the likes of Hemnet in Sweden and was a major shareholder in Axel Springer's classifieds operation until 2014).

TX Group AG holds 31% of the new joint venture, Ringier AG and Mobiliar each 29.5% and as a growth investor, General Atlantic holds 10%. The four shareholders each have 25% of the voting rights. 

 

Gilles Despas, who spoke about the Swiss market at the 2020 Virtual European Property Portal Watch and is currently CEO of the Scout24 Switzerland Group, will be the CEO of the joint venture while the highly experienced ex Axel Springer man Lothar Lanz will be Chairman of the new JV.

Pietro Supino, President and Publisher of the TX Group said:

“Our partnership with General Atlantic, Mobiliar and Ringier is the result of a long process. It is a big step for everyone involved, and it shows a promising, digital perspective for Switzerland as a business location in the increasingly international competition."

Mark Walder, CEO of Ringier said:

"This creates a uniquely positioned company in Switzerland. With this group, we will significantly expand our customer orientation across all business areas. Through targeted investments in innovative products and services, we will meet the requirements of our customers and users even more effectively. This shared vision drives all shareholders involved."

Michèle Rodoni, CEO of Mobiliar said:

"Thanks to our investment in Scout24 Switzerland five years ago, we gained important knowledge for the development and expansion of our own offers for everything to do with living and for SMEs. That is why it is absolutely logical for us that we are and will remain on board when one of the leading digital Swiss marketplaces is created."

The joint venture effectively ties up the Swiss real estate classifieds market with the three leading verticals and several minor sites now effectively coming under the same ownership. The competition from Axel Springer-owned Immowelt.ch is unlikely to be concerted given that Ringier and Axel Springer already operate a joint venture centred on classifieds in Eastern Europe (Ringier Axel Springer operates the likes of Morizon in Poland).

The newly formed venture will become one of the largest digital companies in Switzerland and a hint as to the motivation behind its formation was left in a press release circulated to journalists by Ringier yesterday in which international competitors with "global platforms" were mentioned.

Certainly, consolidation of brands was mentioned as a tactic to head off the advances of Facebook Marketplace in OC&C's guide to classifieds operators' new competitor that we published back in March. 

 

September 1, 2021
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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