The 7 Most Important Mergers and Acquisitions from the Property Portal Sector in 2020

December 29, 2020
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As you may have read in our newsletter, OnlineMarketplaces.com has been undergoing something of an overhaul over the last few months. As part of the revision, we have been going over everything we have written in 2020 and analysing our output to make some changes to how and what we write. The analysis has given us some great insight into what you, our audience, engage with and unsurprisingly stories around mergers and acquisitions seem to be the most popular. With that in mind, we have put together a retrospective of the year according to the most read M&A stories on OnlineMarketplaces over the last 12 months.

 

April - EMPG Merges with OLX in The Middle East

The deal announced in April saw OLX owned horizontal dubizzle and EMPG owned property vertical Bayut join forces and form a potent market-leading alliance in The UAE. The operation included an investment injection of some $150 into EMPG from OLX and other investors and made the Dubai based business one of the region's first unicorns, a fact that did not go unnoticed among an Emirati press corp keen for a tech success story.

This deal wasn't the last big merger that either party would enter into in 2020. Prosus owned OLX has always been open to pragmatic offers, and the horizontal marketplace giant was busy negotiating a similar deal with Central American market leader Encuentra24 at the same time as the EMPG deal was made public.

 

May - EMPG Agrees to Acquire Lamudi Global

Another EMPG deal announced at the height of lockdowns across the world, this story saw enormous interest as Lamudi's portals in Indonesia, The Philippines (where it has a claim to be market leader) and Mexico were snapped up by EMPG. Though the deal was hardly a surprise as Lamudi's previous owner Rocket Internet had sold its interests in the Middle East to EMPG 12 months before, it did represent further consolidation of several important and growing markets and gave EMPG a foothold in Latin America.

 

July -  Adevinta Reaches Agreement to Buy eBay Classifieds

Quite simply the biggest classifieds deal ever made, eBay's sale of its classifieds division to Schibsted offshoot Adevinta was not without its twists and turns. There were several interested parties keen to make a deal including Adevinta rival and fellow classifieds giant Prosus / Naspers as well as several of the large VC funds.  You can read our deep dive into the deal exploring all the key questions around this $9.2 billion agreement here.

 

September - APAX Sells idealista for €1.3 Billion

After a frustrating route to IPO for the Southern European market-leading property portal, its majority shareholders APAX Partners put the company up for sale. Although there was reported interest from PropertyGuru backers KKR and Zoopla owner Silver Lake, the eventual €1.3 billion winning bid came from pan-European VC company EQT Partners.

EQT followed up their headline purchase of idealista and its assets in Spain, Portugal and Italy with a subsequent buyout of Italian property portal Casa.it the #3 player in the country in a deal which Casa.it CEO Luca Rossetto told us all about at Property Portal Watch's 2020 European Edition in November.

 

October - Adevinta Sells Fincaraíz, Avito and Tayara to Frontier Digital Ventures

Having just agreed to acquire eBay Classified for $9.2 billion, Adevinta was always going to need to raise some capital and pare down its expenses and assets. In October the company did just that by divesting from some of its non-core classifieds titles in a deal worth $56 million. For its money, international classifieds operator Frontier Digital Ventures gained leading property portal Fincaraíz in Colombia and leading North African horizontal sites Tayara (Tunisia) and Avito (Morocco).

 

November - OLX Completes Purchase of Grupo ZAP

Having been agreed at the start of the year, the biggest deal in Brazilian property marketing got long-awaited approval from the country's competition authorities. A merger reportedly worth a little over half a billion dollars, the deal saw the VivaReal and Zap portals allied with the horizontal marketplace site OLX Brazil, a joint venture between Adevinta and Prosus, cementing a seemingly impregnable position of market leadership in the rapidly growing Brazilian market.

 

November - CoStar Acquires Homesnap for $250 Million

Until 2020 CoStar had been known as a data company which had a leading position in the marketing of commercial property through its specialist portal LoopNet. In November when the company used some of the $745 million it had borrowed earlier in the year to fund the acquisition of Homesnap, any doubts about its intentions to move in on Zillow's turf in the residential market were thoroughly dispelled.

Homesnap works with MLSs across the country to build out public-facing portals for them and in doing so standardise an often haphazard and inconsistent use of data which has traditionally benefitted Zillow. CoStar's CEO Andy Florance has been categoric in his criticism of US residential market leader Zillow and following his company's acquisition of Homesnap gave a forthright interview about CoStar's intentions in the residential market.

The Homesnap deal was not the only interesting buyout CoStar was involved in this year. The Washington based company plunged $587 million into the acquisition of floundering rental portal operator RentPath, a deal which has reportedly run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission. Perhaps even more interestingly, CoStar has been snooping around data company Core Logic and earlier in the year acquired European commercial property data company Emporis.

 

We're sure there will be many more mergers and acquisitions in the property portal space in 2021. Read all the details around them on OnlineMarketplaces.com.

December 29, 2020
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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