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Naspers/Schibsted deal gets green light from EU

Posted by on Dec 20, 2014 in Articles, Strategy | Comments Off

The European Commission (EC) approved the following parts of the major Naspers/Schibsted deal (more about the deal here and here) on Dec. 18:

+ The acquisition by Norway’s SnT Classifieds ANS of the online classified businesses of Naspers in Bangladesh and Chile;

+ The acquisition of joint control over the online classifieds businesses of Naspers in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam by Schibsted ASA of Norway, Telenor ASA of Norway and Singapore Press Holdings Ltd of Singapore;

+ The taking of joint control over Bomnegocio Ativades Ltda of Brazil by SnT Classifieds ANS of Norway and Naspers Limited of South Africa. Bomnegocio is currently solely controlled by SnT.

It is not clear at this stage whether the complete deal has now been given the green light, or that approval for more parts are still outstanding. In any event, the most important parts have been OK-ed, namely Brazil and the part involving Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

At the time of writing, neither Naspers nor Schibsted has responded to the news. One can expect more clarity about the significance of the above approvals from the two parties next week.

We are a bit perplexed by the following:

+ The two companies announced a deal involving eight countries (Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Philippines, Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam and Mexico).

+ Chile and Malaysia never featured in any announcement made by them. Now the EC approved the above deal. What do we not understand?

+ The above approvals covers Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Brazil. What still seems to be outstanding: Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico and Colombia. (The last two might simply have been gentlemen’s agreements/undertakings, not needing any formal approval by anyone).

In any event, this is good news for Naspers and Schibsted shareholders, and everyone holding any share in South Africa. Why? Because Naspers has grown so big in terms of market-cap, that it moves the whole Johannesburg Stock Exchange. A true case of the tail wagging the dog.

Something about the process at the EC:

+ The EC has 25 working days after a deal is filed for a first-stage review. It may extend that by ten working days to 35 working days, to consider either a company’s proposed remedies, or an EU member state’s request to handle the case;

+ Most mergers win approval, but occasionally the Commission opens a detailed second-stage investigation for up to 90 additional working days, which it may extend to 105 working days.

+ Under a so-called simplified procedure, the Commission announces the clearance of uncontroversial first-stage mergers without giving any reason for its decision. Cases may be reclassified as non-simplified — that is, ordinary first-stage reviews — until they are approved.

Christo Volschenk

Naspers forges ahead with idea to befriend mobile operators

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Articles, Marketplace, Strategy | Comments Off

OLX, the general classifieds platform Naspers operates in more than 40 emerging economies around the world, highjacked the idea of Internet.org to get mobile operators to agree to free surfing on certain websites.

Earlier this week OLX and Mobilink, a mobile operator in Pakistan, said they “have extended their partnership to provide free mobile browsing of all OLX website variants and applications over Mobilink’s network”.

“As part of this collaboration, Mobilink’s prepaid customers will be able to enjoy unlimited free access to OLX over the Mobilink network,” the parties said in a media statement.

Internet.org is the initiative driven by Facebook, and launched in September 2013, to bring affordable Internet access to the two-thirds of the global population (about five billion people), which still aren’t connected to the Internet. Earlier this year this initiative started signing up mobile operators in countries with low penetration rates to allow people to surf on certain websites for free. OLX is also part of this initiative.

For the background and signficance of this initiative to classifieds, please read our report here (paying clients only).

In Pakistan it apparently decided to go it’s own way. A spokesman of Internet.org confirmed to AIM Group that “Mobilink in Pakistan wasn’t one of our deals”.

Aamer Manzoor, head of data at Mobilink, said, “Our partnership with OLX is a testament to our efforts in promoting mobile Internet and innovation in Pakistan, by partnering with some of the leading global brands. I am confident that our customers will take maximum advantage of this collaboration and use this opportunity to surf on OLX over Mobilink’s high-speed Internet.”

OLX co-founder and CEO said, “The offer will allow Mobilink users to browse for free on the OLX mobile site and the OLX app, which is available on Android, iOS and Windows”.

Christo Volschenk

Bayt launches SMS service platform

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Articles, Middle East, Recruitment | Comments Off

Job site Bayt.com recently launched a dedicated SMS service platform in Egypt.

This new platform enables professionals in Egypt to ask questions and receive answers and advice from peers and experts in various areas of specialization in a timely and organized manner. The users can ask questions and receive answers via text messages sent from their mobile phones.

The new SMS service platform came as a result of a partnership between Bayt.com and Souktel, the mobile solutions provider. Bayt.com considers this another step in the direction of empowering professionals in the Middle East and especially Egypt.

The mobile penetration rate is over 100 percent in Egypt, although only six percent of Egyptians own a smartphone. The new service ensures that all mobile users have the ability to access the content.

Souktel was founded in 2006 as a tech venture that links communities with jobs and aid through mobile web, SMS, and audio services. Souktel has more than 250,000 mobile subscribers accessing content.

In 2013, Forbes magazine named Souktel one of ten start-ups in the Middle East to watch. Souktel’s core funders are Sadara Ventures, whose investors include Google, Cisco, the Skoll Foundation and the European Investment Bank.

Bayt.com was founded in 2000 and is available in English, Arabic and French. It operates from 12 regional offices in Abu Dhabi, Al Kuwait, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Casablanca, Doha, Dubai, Eastern Province, Jeddah, Manama and Riyadh. Bayt.com has more than 18 million registered job seekers, works with over 40,000 employer companies and receives more than eight million visits each month.

Stakeholders give ‘Zulia’ go-ahead’

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Articles, Real estate | Comments Off

Zillow Shareholders and Trulia Stockholders Approve Planned Acquisition

SEATTLE and SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 18, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Zillow, Inc. (Nasdaq:Z) and Trulia, Inc. (NYSE:TRLA) today announced that Zillow shareholders and Trulia stockholders voted resoundingly to approve the previously announced definitive agreement, dated as of July 28, 2014, pursuant to which Zillow will acquire Trulia. At special meetings held earlier today, approximately 88.75% of Zillowvotes outstanding and entitled to be voted, and 79.52% of Trulia votes outstanding and entitled to be voted, were voted in favor of the agreement. Zillow shareholders and Trulia stockholders also voted to approve the authorization of nonvoting Class C capital stock in the combined company’s amended and restated articles of incorporation.

About Zillow, Inc.Pursuant to the agreement, Zillow will acquire Trulia in a stock-for-stock transaction, where Trulia stockholders will receive 0.444 shares of Class A Common Stock of the combined company for each share of Trulia. The transaction remains subject to the satisfaction or waiver of customary closing conditions, including the expiration of U.S. antitrust waiting periods. The companies anticipate that the transaction will be completed in the first half of 2015.

Zillow, Inc. (Nasdaq:Z) operates the leading real estate and home-related information marketplaces on mobile and the Web, with a complementary portfolio of brands and products that help people find vital information about homes, and connect with the best local professionals. Zillow’s brands serve the full lifecycle of owning and living in a home: buying, selling, renting, financing, remodeling and more. In addition, Zillow offers a suite of tools and services to help local real estate, mortgage, rental and home improvement professionals manage and market their businesses. Welcoming more than 74 million unique users in November 2014, the Zillow, Inc. portfolio includes Zillow.com®, Zillow Mobile, Zillow Mortgages, Zillow Rentals, Zillow Digs®, Postlets®, Diverse Solutions®, Mortech®, HotPads™, StreetEasy® and Retsly™. The company is headquartered in Seattle.

Zillow.com, Zillow, Postlets, Mortech, Diverse Solutions, StreetEasy and Digs are registered trademarks of Zillow, Inc. HotPads and Retsly are trademarks of Zillow, Inc.

About Trulia, Inc.

Trulia (NYSE:TRLA) gives home buyers, sellers, renters and real estate professionals all the tools and valuable information they need to be successful in the home search process. Through its innovative mobile and web products, Trulia provides engaged home buyers and sellers essential information about the house, the neighborhood and the process while connecting them with the right agents. For agents, Trulia, together with its MarketLeader subsidiary, provides an end-to-end technology platform that enables them to find and serve clients, create lasting relationships and build their business. Founded in 2005, Trulia is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in New York, Denver andSeattle. Trulia and the Trulia marker logo are registered trademarks of Trulia, Inc.

(ZFIN)

No Offer or Solicitation

This communication is for informational purposes only and is neither an offer to purchase, nor a solicitation of an offer to sell, subscribe for or buy any securities or the solicitation of any vote in any jurisdiction pursuant to the proposed transactions or otherwise, nor shall there be any sale, issuance or transfer of securities in any jurisdiction in contravention of applicable law. No offer of securities shall be made except by means of a prospectus meeting the requirements of Section 10 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.

Forward-Looking Statements

This communication contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 that involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, statements regarding Zillow’s proposed acquisition of Trulia (the “Proposed Transaction”). Statements containing words such as “may,” “believe,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “project,” “will,” “projections,” “estimate,” or similar expressions constitute forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to significant risks and uncertainties and actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in the forward-looking statements. Factors that may contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, the possibility that the transaction will not close, including, but not limited to, due to the failure to obtain governmental approval. The foregoing list of risks and uncertainties is illustrative, but is not exhaustive. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those anticipated in forward-looking statements can be found under the caption “Risk Factors” in Zillow’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2014, Trulia’sAnnual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013, as amended on May 23, 2014, and Trulia’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended September 30, 2014, under the caption “Risk Factors” in the Registration/Joint Proxy Statement (as defined below), and in Zillow’s and Trulia’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Except as may be required by law, neither Zillow nor Trulia intend, nor undertake any duty, to update this information to reflect future events or circumstances.

Additional Information and Where to Find It

In connection with the Proposed Transaction, a new holding company, Zebra Holdco, Inc. (“Holdco”), has filed a Registration Statement on Form S-4 with the SEC (the “Registration/Joint Proxy Statement”), which includes a registration statement and final prospectus with respect to Holdco’s shares to be issued in the Proposed Transaction and a final joint proxy statement of Zillow and Trulia with respect to the Proposed Transaction. The Registration/Joint Proxy Statement was declared effective by the SEC on November 17, 2014. INVESTORS AND SECURITYHOLDERS ARE URGED TO READ THE REGISTRATION/JOINT PROXY STATEMENT REGARDING THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION BECAUSE IT CONTAINS IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION AND RELATED MATTERS. Investors and security holders can obtain free copies of the Registration /Joint Proxy Statement at the SEC’s website atwww.sec.gov. Copies of the Registration/Joint Proxy Statement, and the filings that are incorporated by reference therein, may also be obtained, without charge, by contacting Zillow Investor Relations at (206) 470-7137 or by going to Zillow’s website, www.zillow.com, under the heading “Investors”. These documents may also be obtained, without charge, by contacting Trulia Investor Relations at (415) 400-7238or going to Trulia’s website, www.trulia.com, under the tab “Investor Relations”.

Daily Mail merges classified and display teams

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Articles, Strategy, United Kingdom | Comments Off

Mail Advertising, the commercial arm of The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, has merged its classified and display advertising sales teams in a group restructure. The combined team of 120 people in London and 16 in Scotland and Manchester offices will be led by Rosemary Gorman, the group’s advertising director.

The restructure follows an internal review conducted by Boston Consulting Group, and sees new roles created to encourage better liaison with agency planners. However, no mention has been made of how the group restructure will impact the relationship between Mail Advertising and the digital sales teams at Mail Online. It is the U.K.’s most visited news site, and has expanded recently to the U.S.. Media Week recently reported that there was widespread dissatisfaction among advertising agencies that the print and digital teams do not work closer together.

Rosemary Gorman will assume her new responsibilities in January. She commented on the new role: “This is an enormously exciting time for everyone in our team here at Mail Advertising. These changes, together with new hirings across the agency planning and travel teams, will allow us to build on our past successes and facilitate closer and more effective partnerships, as well as providing a one-stop shop for the travel industry.

“At its core, we will be able to offer a personal and bespoke service in response to every brief, and will be able to ensure that insight is embedded into our planning process to drive ever more effective campaigns which perfectly address our clients’ communications objectives.”

Auto Trader to launch major TV campaign

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Articles, Automotive, United Kingdom | Comments Off

Auto Trader is launching a £6.5 million ($10 million U.S.) television advertising campaign on the day after Christmas to highlight the online features it offers to help people find their perfect autos.

The TV advert called ‘Searchers’ shows people from a young age looking and observing, leading to older people using the same observation skills to admire the autos which suit them most. It finishes with the strapline “Creating new ways to help you find your perfect car”.

A longer version of the spot is available online, in which a football ‘scout’ – who discovers young talent for big clubs – talks about having to see hundreds of children play to find just one promising footballer, which he likens to finding the right car through, in his case, selecting a BMW 3 Series, and then narrowing down the model choice by engine size, tax and fuel efficiency criteria.

Jonathan Williams, group marketing director at Auto Trader, said: “At Auto Trader we understand that auto buyers all search in different ways based on their knowledge of autos. Deciding what auto to buy next can often be a difficult decision for many of us. We now offer ways for the unconfident auto buyer to find their next auto and explore autos they may not of have thought met their criteria. We want our campaign to connect with buyers that do and don’t know what they are looking for next.”

The campaign is expected to run throughout the first quarter of 2015. It begins on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, which is the U.K.’s equivalent of Black Friday – a national holiday when retailers traditionally slash prices and families go shopping for bargains. In January, Auto Trader’s arch rival, EBay-owned Gumtree (which operates Gumtree Motors) will be prevalent on television also, through sponsoring Channel 5’s Celebrity Big Brother.

Big, new stuff search engine launches in Germany

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Articles | Comments Off

Rubrikk.no AS, Norway’s stuff ads search engine operator with sites in eight countries, added a ninth country site to its portfolio. Measured by the number of stuff ads aggregated from general classified platforms, the latest addition is the biggest in Rubrikk’s portfolio by far.NorwayLogo

This content is available to Classified Intelligence Report clients.

Want to know more about becoming a client?

Housing.com gets $90 million

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in India, Investors, Real estate | Comments Off

In a year when Indian online real estate classifieds websites have been raking in big bucks, it’s going to be a sunnier Christmas for Mumbai-based Locon Solutions Pvt. Ltd., promoters of Housing.com.

The map-based house hunting website, which was started by 12 graduates of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in 2012, has received a financial injection of $90 million from a group of investors led by the Japanese telecom and internet behemoth, SoftBank Corp.

Falcon Edge Capital, the New York-based hedge fund led by Tiger Global ‘grandcub’ Richard Gerson, and Russian billionaire and Mail.ru group co-founder Yuri Milner’s private fund, DST Global, have also pumped in unspecified amounts as part of this round of funding.

The Japanese corporation has made the investment through its newbie venture, SoftBank Internet and Media, Inc (SIMI), which was created a few weeks ago under the leadership of Nikesh Arora, the flamboyant former chief business officer of Google. Head-hunted personally by SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son, Arora will power the megacorp’s investments in the internet domain.

The website, which has raised $121 million in the last two years amid a flurry of media stories about how its founders have 18-hour workdays, has announced that it will spend the funds now at its command to map more than 40 million houses across 300 cities in India. Additionally, it will provide ‘On-Off buttons’ to the owners and their agents so that these houses can automatically be back in the marketplace whenever they are put up again on rent or for sale.

Housing.com, as a result, will have a live database that no other player in the growing line-up of real estate portals in India has laid claim to. Arora of SoftBank said in a media release that products such as these would “transform the way people research and transact in real estate.”

The website’s co-founder Advitiya Sharma (his name, incidentally, means ‘second to none’) said in another media release: “We have put all our focus into building great products and mapping every single house in the country on the platform.”

Housing.com’s promoters claim to have mapped more than 80,000 houses in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, and 50,000 in the southern city of Bangalore, also known as India’s Silicon Valley.

Online real estate classifieds sites started making news after InfoEdge, the company behind such pioneering websites as Naukri.com and the property portal, 99Acres.com, raised $125 million earlier this year through an investment mechanism known as Qualified Institutional Placement (QIP). Unique to India, a QIP allows a company to raise capital legitimately from select investors without going through the procedural rigmarole associated with such activities. Immediately after raising the money, InfoEdge announced that it would pump it into bolstering the management team and products of 99Acres.com.

Soon thereafter, Bangalore-based maxHeap Technologies Pvt. Ltd., which owns the real estate and apartment management portal, CommonFloor.com, announced that it had secured $30 million from existing investor Tiger Global Management. The news made national headlines and InfoEdge even predicted that online real estate classifieds websites would attract $300 million in PE/VC funding over the next three years.

That must be music to the ears of the growing field of potential claimants of this windfall. Apart from 99Acres.com, Housing.com, CommonFloor.com and MagicBricks.com, which is backed by India’s largest multi-media conglomerate, Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd., IndianProperty.com and PropTiger.com are the two other players waiting in the wings, sniffing at opportunities.

Facebook launches sell button for groups

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in Articles, Marketplace, Social, Uncategorized | Comments Off

While millions of items are already being sold by way of Facebook groups, Facebook hasn’t done anything official to facilitate that – until now. (See our Global Classifieds Annual report for more on Facebook group marketplaces.)

It’s not so much a revolutionary tool that helps consumers sell, but rather Facebook’s way of getting in on what has already been happening.  For group managers who want to introduce sales, or facilitate the ones they’ve already introduced, the features seem handy.  The new “Sell Something” option asks the user to describe the item for sale and its asking price, add pictures and indicate pick up and delivery options. According to  The Next Web, there’s still plenty of opportunity for group members to make an offer and comment on the item.

Rather than impacting the social giant’s bottom line, this new groups tool seems merely a way to bring uniformity to the sales process already happening in Facebook groups. As Facebook rollouts go, this one’s a bit ho-hum.

The new Sell Something tool  is currently available only to a select few Facebook groups that have already been acting as marketplaces.

 

 

Angie’s List replaces CTO yet again

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in Articles, Insiders, Marketplace, Services | Comments Off

Angie’s List has announced its third head of technology in less than two years, with the hire of Darin Brown, who was last VP, excelerate at ExactTarget. Brown’s title will be SVP of Technology, according to Indianapolis Business Journal. Current CTO Robert Wiseman, who has only been with the service marketplace since March, is to remain as consultant, after declining to relocate to Indianapolis.

Additionally, Shelly Towns, VP of product at Angie’s List, has been promoted to SVP, product.

Both changes take effect January 5, 2015.

Speculation about a buyout of Angie’s List continues,  with Google, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Amazon mentioned as prospective buyers. The 19 year-old firm has never turned a profit.

IBJ.com has more.