Roam, Africa’s largest classifieds firm, kicks off

14 Nov 2017

The merger of Ringier Africa and One Africa Media (OAM) has finally been completed and announced.

One Africa Media is “off air” (type OneAfricaMedia.com in your browser, and you are redirected to Roam.Africa), and the new entity, Ringier One Africa Media (Roam), stands as the largest classifieds group on the continent with nine leading sites in its portfolio – job site Jobberman, job site BrighterMonday, auto site Cheki, property site BuyRentKenya, property site PrivateProperty Nigeria, property site MaMaison, and four horizontals (Expat-Dakar, ZoomTanzania, Pigiame, Qefira).

“The various platforms now benefit from synergies between the individual businesses, greater knowledge sharing, and joint technology. They are managed by teams on the ground in the nine countries where Roam is present, namely Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, and Ethiopia. The technology and product development teams are based in Cape Town and Mauritius,” Roam said. (Full statement here.)

Clemens Weitz, CEO of Roam (photo from his LinkedIn page with thanks)

Apart from the sheer size and number of its properties, the synergy and integration of their collective data present added advantage to ROAM against competitors like Naspers, Rocket Internet-backed Jumia Group, Frontier Digital Ventures. For example, in the jobs category, ROAM is the clear leader, owning sites like Jobberman, BrighterMonday, Qefira which dominate key markets such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Leveraging their access across several markets, ROAM launched The African Talent Company – a C-suite executive solution for employers seeking talent from across the continent. It’s the first of its kind online service on the continent.

Ringier with its global experience and expertise also brings unrivalled management and technology (in comparison with FDV and Jumia Group) to drive the growth of its companies. Already, ROAM, in partnership with Facebook, launched a chatbot on BrighterMonday – the first on the African job market.

It isn’t quite clear who the shareholders of Roam are, but we assume Ringier, Seek, Tiger Global Management, the founders of the sites in the portfolio and management make up the list.

In its official announcement, Roam also said it “is intended that new partners, such as Mediatiz in Mauritius and Classifieds.co.zw and Property.co.zw in Zimbabwe, will join the group.” The latter two are leading horizontal and real estate sites respectively in Zimbabwe.

(It’s not clear what Roam meant with “new partners will join”; will Roam buy into them, take them over, or simply cooperate with them? We’ll enquire – editor.)

Robin Lingg, CEO of Ringier Africa and Asia, also officially announced that Clemens Weitz (photo) has been appointed CEO of Ringier One Africa Media. He took over from Justin Clarke (LinkedIn), who was stand-in CEO for the duration of the merger negotiations.

Weitz was formerly COO of Ringier Africa Classifieds. He has been working on the continent with Ringier since 2014. Weitz, is optimistic about the group’s future, and described its growth potential as “huge” in the statement.

“The number of smartphones (the primary browsing device in Africa) is expected to increase fivefold between now and 2025,” he motivated.

The Ringier Africa and OAM joint venture was first announced in May 2016, and has taken ever since to finalize, due to drawn-out negotiations with founders of the many sites in the portfolio (who the two merging parties wanted to keep on board at all cost), and legal issues linked to the M&A activity across more than five countries in Africa, where Roam now actively operates.

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Adegoke Seun

Adegoke Seun Oyeniyi is a business intelligence and media consultant specialized in helping foreign companies understand or penetrate African markets. He is also an award-winning business writer with Ashoka Scholar and 2016 Media Prize to his credit. He is the AIMGroup West Africa analyst covering major markets like Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana.