Prominent portals form joint venture

Onthehouse Holdings has found a buyer for its loss-making Consumer Online division, seven months after announcing it was for sale.

Onthehouse said that after considering several proposals, it was now in advance negotiations to merge the division with the industry-owned RealestateVIEW portal.

“A non-binding term sheet was signed in December and a sale agreement is being prepared,” Onthehouse said in a statement to the ASX.

“Concurrently, the parties are continuing discussions with other strategic joint venture partners that could see increased investment to aggressively accelerate the new joint venture’s marketing and product development.”

Consumer Online includes the Onthehouse.com.au website and Residex data business.

Onthehouse chief executive Chris Meehan said a joint venture with RealestateVIEW would create a larger profitable competitor in the Australian online real estate sector.

The new business would have well over two million unique browsers per month and about 75 per cent of sale and rental listings, according to Mr Meehan.

“This joint venture would be a natural evolution for Onthehouse’s Consumer Online division,” he said.

“If implemented, this joint venture would provide the real estate industry with a scale platform to participate in the online real estate sector at a time when many are looking for an alternative to the existing online portals.”

RealestateVIEW managing director Enzo Raimondo said a joint venture with Onthehouse would be a strong strategic fit.

“Together, RealestateVIEW and Onthehouse.com.au have built a real estate marketplace that provides consumers with all sold and current property information in one place and delivers real value to the real estate industry,” he said.

The ASX statement didn’t reveal how much of Consumer Online would be acquired by RealestateVIEW.

Last June, Onthehouse announced that it would maintain an interest of between 30 per cent and 49 per cent in Consumer Online – and that the spin-off would be chaired by Onthehouse’s largest shareholder, Michael Dempsey.

Onthehouse said at the time that there were limited synergies between Consumer Online and its profitable Real Estate Solutions division, which is why it wanted to sell Consumer Online.

The board also felt Consumer Online would be likely to improve under a new owner, which is why it wanted to retain a stake in the business.

[Related: Onthehouse rejects Macquarie-led takeover]

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