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It is official: In possibly the biggest classifieds deal in South Africa to date, Naspers subsidiary OLX Group acquired the country’s leading vehicle vertical AutoTrader.co.za

The latter released an official statement on Tuesday afternoon (November 2), announcing that its acquisition had been approved by the Competition Commission of SADetail of the transaction was not disclosed. 

This comes just six weeks after we first broke the news of the proposed deal. According to the statement, the companies intend to join forces to the benefit of the South African vehicle market. While AutoTrader.co.za will remain a separate brand, it will draw on OLX Group’s technology and expertise. The parties hope this will bring “renewed energy and focus” and help bring even more growth to AutoTrader. 

The Competition Commission of SA released a statement saying: “The Commission is of the view that the proposed transaction is unlikely to substantially prevent or lessen competition in the market for the provision of online automotive classified advertising services.”

AutoTrader CEO George Mienie said: “We bring the expertise from the niche verticals of car, truck, commercial, agriculture, bike and leisure. We are excited to work with OLX Group, which is part of a global company. Our customers can stand to benefit substantially from investment in product innovation as a result.”

Mienie said vehicle shoppers can look forward to on-going improvements to further enhance consumer experience through investment in online vehicle-shopping tools. 

AutoTrader.co.za is undoubtedly South Africa’s biggest auto site. According to web traffic data collected by Effective Measure, it received 1.7 million unique visitors in September. The second-placed site, Gumtree Auto, saw just shy of 1.6 million visitors, while Cars.co.za measured just more than 1.4 million. 

To fully understand AutoTrader.co.za’s reach, however, one also has to factor in the traffic from its app, which saw just more than 66,000 unique visitors in September. It also enjoyed a fair amount of exposure from its partnership with the Media24-owned motoring news site Wheels24 which added 660,150 online visitors, and another 260,900 through the News24 app.

Media24 is a subsidiary of Naspers in South Africa, and has built AutoTrader.co.za into its Wheels24, allowing their readers to browse the roughly 68,930 listings on the site. It is unlikely that OLX Group will discontinue, terminate or change the cooperation with subsidiary Media24 in any way after the deal. (We will have to wait and see, however – editor.)

The acquisition of AutoTrader.co.za came just a few months after Media24 had assembled a team of digital experts to help accelerate the company’s digital growth. When AIM Group initially asked about the reasoning behind the deal, Naspers head of investor relations Meloy Horn said: “Classifieds is a core segment for Naspers and auto verticals is part of our strategy.”

Sjoerd Nikkelen, OLX Group general manager for Africa, Middle East and Asia, said: “This partnership will give us the scale to lead the coming wave of innovation and disruption in South Africa, in which deep-data skills will make our propositions to dealers and consumers fundamentally more valuable and convenient.”