China’s Fosun International Ltd. is in talks to acquire a stake in Indian real estate search provider Housing.com, in which Japan’s SoftBank Corp. is the largest investor, Mint newspaper reported on Monday, citing two people familiar with the negotiations.
Fosun, backed by billionaire chairman Guo Guangchang, whom the Financial Times called "China’s Warren Buffett," may invest about $100 million in Mumbai’s Locon Solutions Pvt. Ltd., which operates the housing search website. Talks, however, are in early stages, Mint reported.
Big businesses in China, such as Guangchang’s Fosun -- the country's largest privately held conglomerate -- and Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., are looking to expand overseas as their domestic market slows down. India, the next most populous country in the world, is seen as a growing opportunity, with its large middle class and millions of young joining the urban workforce every year.
Fosun's investment could be part of a new round of funding that Housing.com was planning, Mint reported. Such a round would be the startup’s fifth, and it has raised more than $121 million previously since its 2012 launch.
The most recent funding round, in December, was led by SoftBank and included several other investors such as Falcon Edge Capital. The round brought $90 million to Locon Solutions and made SoftBank the largest investor in the startup.
Housing.com is using the funds to map over 40 million houses across 300 cities in India. The site features on and off buttons that homeowners and agents can use to indicate properties that are either on the market or off it.
Housing.com provides verified listings with high-definition photographs of the properties and more than 100 data points on the listing. It's present in 45 cities with about 350,000 verified listings and information on some 15,000 new projects.