A company owned by media magnate Rupert Murdoch is set to acquire all of the Malaysian-based company iProperty Group Ltd., which offers online real estate classified advertising in the Asia-Pacific region. REA Group, which is 62 percent-owned by the Australian News Corp., announced the $414 million deal Sunday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
With the acquisition, the Melbourne-based REA Group will have real estate portals in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand. “This acquisition further demonstrates our commitment to international expansion, and is the next step in our growth strategy in the Asian region,” REA’s chief executive Tracy Fellows told the Journal.
REA already owned almost 23 percent of iProperty before Sunday, and independent directors at iProperty said they back the transaction. Patrick Grove, an entrepreneur who founded iProperty in 2007, is expected to step down as chairman, according to the Straits Times of Singapore.
Grove lives in Kuala Lumpur and co-founded the investment group Catcha Group in the late 1990s, during the dot-com boom. He is also chairman of iCar Asia, an online automotive advertising portal, and Ensogo, an e-commerce website.
"This deal shows that sizable companies can be built in Southeast Asia and that global players are willing to write big checks to move in," Peggy Lee, director of corporate communications for Catcha Group, told the Straits Times.
iProperty, one of Southeast Asia’s leading online property portal businesses, is about to be bought by REA Group https://t.co/WQ9uqKjKUX
— 田島 聡一 (@soichi_tajima) November 3, 2015
About 4 million users go to iProperty’s site monthly, according to news outlet Tech in Asia. The acquisition demonstrates a growing interest in online property search companies in Southeast Asia, and the region’s startups could see billion-dollar buys soon.
With the purchase, REA will offer $2.80 per share to iProperty shareholders or $0.85 per share in cash and 0.7 shares. If they took the $2.80, shareholders who bought shares just after iProperty’s initial public offering would make 17 times return.