Zoopla to merge with FindaProperty creating a UK giant killer

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The Daily Mail and General Trust which owns The Daily Mail and other media interests is to planning to merge the online property business of its Digital Property Group consisting of FindaProperty.com and Primelocation.com, with venture-backed property startup Zoopla.

Under the proposed merger, A&N Media (the consumer arm of DMGT) will retain a 55% interest in the newly merged entity. Shares in DMGT were up following the proposal.

In 2009 Zoopla closed a £3.75 million round of funding from venture capital firms Atlas Venture and Octopus Ventures taking its total raised to £5.5m.

The dominant player in the UK online property market is Rightmove, but this merger creates a powerful competitor.

A source close to the negotiations called this “a good deal for both sides”. The FindaProperty sites are bigger in revenue but Zoopla “has the innovation and growth. A big exit looms!”

The Rightmove market cap is 1.3Bn. Yes, you read that right. So if the merged entity plays it right, this is almost certain to be one of the UK’s biggest ever startup exits.

In a statement Martin Morgan, Chief Executive of DMGT said: “This merger will create a genuine opportunity to challenge the dominant market leader in the online property sector. We believe that the combination of our respective digital property assets will benefit both consumers and clients.”

Launched in 2008 less than a year ago Zoopla has become one top most-visited property websites in the UK according to Nielsen.

It’s smart features include the ability to ‘claim your own house’ and start extolling its features, and a feature called ‘tempt me’ where potential sellers can be lured into the market for the right price.

Alex Chesterman is Zoopla’s founder and CEO, and previously co-founded ScreenSelect.co.uk (now LOVEFiLM.com). Other backers of Zoopla include Nauiokas Park LLP as well as angel investors Sherry Coutu (who founded Interactive Investor), Robin Klein of the Accelerator Group, Simon Murdoch, Andy Phillips and William Reeve.

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