PropertyGuru to Acquire REA Group Malaysia, Thailand Units

by BLOOMBERG

Singapore real estate startup PropertyGuru Pte has agreed to acquire all of the shares in REA Group Ltd.’s operating entities in Malaysia and Thailand, marking the biggest acquisition in its 14-year history.

PropertyGuru will acquire iProperty.com.my and Brickz.my in Malaysia and thinkofliving.com and Prakard.com in Thailand from Australia’s REA Group, the Southeast Asian company said in a statement on Monday. As part of the deal, REA, which is majority-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire, will get an 18% equity interest in PropertyGuru and appoint a director to its board. No price has been disclosed for the deal.

“This is our largest acquisition and transformative for PropertyGuru,” Chief Executive Officer Hari V. Krishnan said in an interview with Bloomberg News via Zoom. “This acquisition allows us to be much more synergistic and look for areas where we can invest.”

The announcement comes after a flurry of deal-making by the most valuable startups in the region. Ride-hailing and payments giant Gojek and e-commerce leader Tokopedia announced earlier this month they will combine their businesses to create the largest internet company in Indonesia. Close Gojek rival Grab Holdings Inc. last month agreed to go public in the U.S. through a combination with Altimeter Growth Corp. in the largest-ever merger with a blank-check company.

For PropertyGuru, the deal will likely reduce competition in Malaysia and Thailand where the company has been competing against REA’s affiliates. Krishnan said the firm will keep the existing brands and invest in their development for the foreseeable future.

“iProperty Malaysia in particular is an excellent asset,” the CEO said. “Malaysia is going through a bit of correction, driven very much by Covid right now, but the mega macro trend still exists.”

Shares in REA Group gained as much as 0.9% in Australia on Monday.

Launched in 2007 to help Singapore residents search for real estate online, PropertyGuru has become a household name in the property-crazed city-state. Today, it’s the largest real estate marketplace in Southeast Asia with operations spanning countries including Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. It is backed by KKR & Co Inc. and TPG Capital LP.

In October 2019, the company scrapped plans for an initial public offering on the Australian stock exchange over valuation concerns. About a year later, it announced S$300 million ($220 million) in new funding from existing backers.