REA Group Joins News Corp and SoftBank in Strengthening India’s Digital Real Estate Sector
US$55 Million Fresh Investment in the Joint Entity is the Largest Investment in India’s Digital Real Estate Sector in the Last Two Years
New Delhi/Mumbai, January 10, 2017. PropTiger.com and Housing.com, two of India’s leading online real estate service providers, today announced they will come together to become India’s largest online real estate services company.
As part of the transaction, REA Group Limited (ASX: REA) will invest US$50 million in the joint entity with an affiliate of SoftBank Group Corp, investing US$5 million.
News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA) (ASX: NWS, NWSLV) remains the largest shareholder of PropTiger, and also owns 61.6% of REA Group. Representatives of REA and SoftBank will join the board of the joint entity, which will continue to be chaired by a News Corp representative.
Henry Ruiz, Chief Digital Officer, REA Group, Simon Barnett, Sales Director, News Corp and Jonathan Bullock, MD, SoftBank Group International will join Raju Narisetti (chair), Ravi Adusumalli from SAIF Partners and Prashanth Prakash from Accel Partners as investor directors on the board of the joint entity.
Dhruv Agarwala, co-founder and CEO of PropTiger, will serve as CEO of the joint entity. Jason Kothari, CEO of Housing.com, who has skillfully steered the company and strengthened the brand among Indian internet users, has decided to move on to pursue other opportunities in the Indian Internet space. He will continue to be an advisor to the joint entity through the end of February, 2017.
The joint entity will draw on strengths of PropTiger, Housing.com and Makaan.com to offer a unique holistic experience to consumers, real estate developments, brokers and homeowners. PropTiger is the largest online residential real estate brokerage firm, having completed transactions worth $1.5 billion since its founding in 2011, while Housing.com is India’s most popular online platform for buying and selling homes, receiving over four million visits every month.
The joint entity will be the only player in India offering the full range of online and offline services in the real estate space, such as personalized search, virtual viewing, site visits, legal and financial diligence, negotiations, property registration, home loans and post- sales service.
By 2030, India is expected to be the 3rd largest real estate market in the world with the sector contributing to over 15% of national GDP. The joint PropTiger-Housing.com entity is exceptionally well positioned to win the digital real estate market in India with its unique capabilities and a strong set of institutional investors, which also include SAIF Partners, Accel Partners and Nexus Venture Partners.
Commenting on the investment, REA Group CEO Tracy Fellows said “India is an important part of our international growth strategy. We believe in the potential of the Indian real estate market. REA invests in companies that are leaders in their markets. The joint entity will have access to REA Group’s expertise and know-how from its operations across the globe.”
News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson welcomed the development saying, “Our investments in PropTiger, REA Group and Move, Inc. are testimony to our faith in the potential of the global digital real estate market, of which we are now the largest player. With 1.2 billion people and a rapidly growing economy and middle class, India’s future as a real estate powerhouse is exceptionally bright, and we’re proud to be a part of this expanding sector. Clearly there is a compelling commercial purpose to the deal, but we also firmly believe in providing transparency, analysis and insight so that all Indian families, regardless of traditional background or means, will have a better understanding of the property market.”
SoftBank Group International MD Jonathan Bullock said, “Housing is very well established as an online real estate platform brand and we have been working with the management team to create strong execution capabilities to offer full stack services under one umbrella. PropTiger has already created a great transaction engine. We have full confidence in the management team and will continue to support them. We would particularly like to thank Jason for his leadership and wish him well for his future endeavor.”
The union will immediately strengthen PropTiger’s full stack Online-to-Offline (O2O) services proposition. In April, 2015, PropTiger acquired online classifieds platform Makaan.com to launch India’s first O2O platform, aiding consumers throughout their home buying journey, from initial search and discovery to the final step of transaction closure.
Speaking on the partnership, Dhruv Agarwala, Co-founder & CEO of PropTiger said, “We are excited to join hands with Housing.com. The deal is a continuation of our efforts to bring best in class services to consumers and create a unified technology driven platform that is capable of serving all needs of consumers, developers and brokers with respect to buying selling and renting of homes. Housing has established itself as a formidable online brand and we admire its consumer centric product innovation. The timing of this deal is just right.”
Jason Kothari, CEO of Housing.com added, “I am proud of the exceptional progress the Housing team and investors have achieved together in the past 18 months. Housing.com’s partnership with PropTiger is the next transformational step to realize our vision of becoming a full-service online-to-offline real estate services company. Housing.com and PropTiger share similar values – to provide trust, transparency and simplicity to the home buying journey. The joint entity will be well-positioned to establish market leadership in a large and rapidly changing marketplace. As I move on to my next opportunity, I am glad to leave behind a strong foundation.”
Another major highlight of the deal is the strategic investment by REA Group in the combined entity. REA is the leading digital real estate company in Australia and in February 2016, acquired control of Southeast Asia’s digital real estate company iProperty, which leads the industry in Malaysia and has a significant presence in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand. REA also owns a significant stake in Move, Inc., which was acquired by News Corp in November, 2014. Move operates realtor.com, which has since become the second largest digital real estate company in the US.
The new investment in the PropTiger-Housing.com combination is another step in REA Group’s strategy, along with News Corp, to become market leaders in Asia.
*Note to Editors:
Over the last 3 years, PropTiger has grown organically as well as through acquisitions to create a unique bouquet of services targeting various stakeholders in residential real estate. PropTiger DataLabs provides market intelligence, data analytics and consulting services to developers, institutional investors and home finance companies. PropTiger has developed best in class 3D visualization and Virtual Reality capabilities through acquisition of Bangalore based Out of Box Interactions (OOBI) in 2015 and Gurgaon based 3DPhy in August, 2016.
Over the past one and a half years, Housing.com has delivered exceptional operating results as the company went through a successful business turnaround and it has now become the most popular online platform for home buying and selling in India. Compared to last year, on a monthly basis, the company’s revenues have grown by 400%, costs have decreased by 70%, platform visits have increased b y 215% from 1.3 million to 4.1 million and the number of homes listed has increased by over 450% from 110,000 listings to 630,000 listings. Previously, Housing.com also made key strategic acquisitions, including India’s largest online real estate discussion form, IREF, project due diligence and collateral risk monitoring services company, RealtyBI, and developer CRM player, HomeBuy360.
The product components of both PropTiger and Housing.com will make the joint entity a truly integrated service provider with a unique and powerful capability to serve all stakeholders under one umbrella.
About PropTiger: PropTiger.com is a leading online real estate firm in India that offers a one-stop platform to home buyers. Using the platform, a homebuyer can search for homes, shortlist, visit, finalise, arrange home loans or legal services and, finally, buy the property. Listing an exhaustive range of properties, PropTiger.com not only offers researched information on the locality and very detailed descriptions of the listed properties but also offers the best advice on buying, selling and investing in real estate in India.
PropTiger.com is funded by News Corp, SAIF Partners and Accel Partners among others.
With PropTiger’s acquisition of brands such as makaan.com and OOBI in the recent past, homebuyers now have access to a full stack of services – from online search to assistance with transactions. Since its inception, PropTiger.com has sold homes worth Rs 10,000 crore to more than 15,000 happy customers.
About Housing.com: Housing.com is one of the fastest growing companies in the Indian online real estate space. Born out of the need to simplify the search for a home, free of fake listings and endless site visits, it has created a unique property search platform that filled the gaps left by others in the market. Housing.com is poised to become the most trusted place to find a home in India.
About REA Group Limited: (www.rea-group.com): REA Group Limited ACN 068 349 066 (ASX:REA) (“REA Group”) is a multinational digital advertising business specialising in property. REA Group operates Australia’s leading residential and commercial property websites, realestate.com.au and realcommercial.com.au, European sites casa.it, atHome.lu and immoRegion.fr, Chinese property site myfun.com and a number of property portals in Asia via its ownership of iProperty Group. REA Group also has a significant shareholding in US based Move, Inc.
About News Corp: News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV) is a global, diversified media and information services company focused on creating and distributing authoritative and engaging content to consumers throughout the world. The company comprises businesses across a range of media, including: news and information services, book publishing, digital real estate services, and cable network programming and pay-TV distribution in Australia. Headquartered in New York, the activities of News Corp are conducted primarily in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. More information: http://www.newscorp.com.
About SoftBank Group: The SoftBank Group is a global technology player that aspires to drive the Information Revolution. The SoftBank Group is comprised of the holding company SoftBank Group Corp. (TOKYO: 9984) and its global portfolio of companies, which includes advanced telecommunications, Internet services, AI, smart robotics, IoT and clean energy technology providers. In September 2016, ARM Holdings plc, the world’s leading semiconductor IP company, joined the SoftBank Group. To learn more, please visit www.softbank.com.