The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia has blocked the acquisition of leading real estate vertical Cian.ru by Prosus-owned horizontal Avito.ru. FAS stated that, according to its research, the formation of the two entities would create a dominant real estate classifieds entity on the market, with more than 50% of market share.

“Such a situation can lead to the price increase both for Avito and Cian’s services. The positive effect, in particular, is the reduction in the number of fraudulent ads on both platforms; but this can be achieved without the deal,” the FAS announced.

Avito.ru, the leading horizontal marketplace in Russia, had made a bid to purchase the No. 1 real estate vertical in the country — Cian.ru. After Cian had accepted the deal, the terms of which have not been disclosed, FAS had been reviewing the deal for several months.

With the deal off, Cian.ru will now either return to its original target of an IPO in 2022, or could possibly be open to another acquisition offer, with the market now aware that the company is available for purchase.

According to Russia-based business publication RBC, Avito.ru possesses around 40% of the total real estate listings in Russia, with Cian.ru holding a 20% share. However, these measurements are likely unreliable, with many property listings on Avito duplicates and unverified. By revenue, Cian.ru is almost certainly the dominant real estate marketplace business in Russia, with an estimated $40-50 million U.S. in revenue annually.

The acquisition of Cian would have helped Avito consolidate a genuinely strong position in the real estate market and push forward its strategy to build out a more transactions-led business.

Cian.ru sees around 40 million total monthly visits on average, according to SimilarWeb. Avito.ru is close to breaking 300 million in total monthly visits for the first time, reaching 297 million in August.

Revenues at Avito.ru increased by 20% to $415 million U.S. in FY2020, and its trading margins remained strong at 40%. It’s the most impressive business in the Prosus classifieds portfolio and one of the few large, successful businesses in Russia owned by a foreign company. Avito recently announced it was starting to move to a full “marketplace” model.

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