EBay Classifieds has completed its acquisition of Cox Media, the subsidiary of Cox Automotive Australia that operates automotive classified sites AutoTrader and CarsGuide.
The deal was given the green light in early May, with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims saying the deal was “unlikely to lead to a lessening of competition” in the Australian automotive classified landscape due to the increasing presence of Facebook Marketplace.
“Our investigation showed that CarSales and Facebook Marketplace are likely to continue to provide significant competition in online automotive classifieds after Gumtree acquires Cox Media,” Sims said in a media release. The deal finally closed on June 1.
No financial details have been disclosed, but the acquisition is estimated to be worth around A$80 million ($51.5 million U.S.).
Both CarSales and REA Group submitted complaints arguing that the merger would lead to substantial loss of competition in the Australian automotive classified landscape.
“While there are looming threats of disruption to the industry, the proposed acquisition would result in a reduction in the number of major automotive listings businesses competing in Australia from three to two,” CarSales wrote in its submission. “The remaining competitors are either meaningfully differentiated or less directly competitive.”
However, those complaints seemed to be outweighed by submissions from Cox Automotive, the Motor Traders’ Association of NSW, Trade Me-owned vehicle information provider MotorWeb, and AP Eagers, the largest dealer group in Australia, which overwhelmingly supported the deal.
AP Eagers said its dealerships currently spend just 13% of their total classified budgets with AutoTrader and CarsGuide — expenditure on Gumtree was around 3 percent.
“Of our total spend with online advertising, approximately 84% is spent with CarSales,” AP Eagers wrote in its submission. “We ordinarily use Gumtree and AutoTrader only for lower-cost used vehicles. This is because advertising on CarSales is cost-prohibitive for vehicles at this end of the market and potential buyers in this area of the market are more accustomed to using these sites.”
In its submission, Cox Automotive, which still operates auction platforms Manheim and SellMyCar in Australia, said the Gumtree / Cox Media deal would create a stronger competitor and “viable alternative” to CarSales.
“The reality facing Cox Media is that the CarSales brand is so strong that most dealers feel they cannot operate their businesses effectively without listing their vehicles on CarSales. As a result, Cox Media can only access marketing spend that is ‘leftover’ after dealers have listed their vehicles on CarSales,” the company wrote.