Proptech giant created with joint-venture between REA Group, 99.co, Sequoia, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, Allianz X, MindWorks Ventures, East Ventures and 500 Startups
REA Group on 8 Oct announced that it has entered into a binding agreement to establish a joint venture (JV) with 99.co, the Singapore headquartered digital property marketplace, to create the largest customer and listings footprint in Singapore and Indonesia.
The combined company, a proptech giant, will provide the most compelling property marketplaces in Singapore and Indonesia, while delivering the best digital platforms to property professionals to help them grow their businesses.
Core to the JV company will be harnessing the know-how and capability of REA Group, the clear number one Australian and South East Asian proptech giant company, with market leading destinations for property seekers across Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand. In addition, the JV company will leverage the entrepreneurial expertise of 99.co, co-founded by CEO Darius Cheung in 2014. Under Cheung’s leadership, 99.co has grown its total user base by 32 times in the past two years.
Prior to establishing 99.co, Cheung co-founded Singaporean mobile security start-up tenCube in 2005 which was later acquired by McAfee in 2010 in a S$25 million deal.
REA Group, CEO Owen Wilson said: “The Singapore marketplace is ripe for disruption. Our customers in this market want a true industry partner who can deliver world leading products and experiences. Joining forces with 99.co creates the market leading presence in terms of customers and listings. Combined with our expertise and experience in other countries where we are the clear market leader, this presents a fantastic opportunity to rapidly increase our market share in these expanding growth markets.”
REA Group, Chief Strategy Officer and CEO Asia, Henry Ruiz commented: “Over the past two years we’ve admired the innovation and speed that Darius and his team have brought to the marketplaces that they serve. The formidable combination of our talent, best of breed technology, digital expertise and customer relationships will supercharge our ability to compete and win in Singapore and Indonesia.”
Darius Cheung, CEO 99.co commented: “This is a truly exciting opportunity to be joining forces with a global leader like REA Group, a company that also shares our customer centric, relationship driven approach. Our JV company sets the scene for us to create the number one place for property seekers in Singapore and Indonesia and in turn provide the best value for property professionals.”
Transaction details of the proptech giant joint venture:
The JV company will be established through the transfer of the existing businesses of 99.co and iProperty.com.sg and Rumah123.com located in Singapore and Indonesia. Existing 99.co shareholders, including the founding partners, Sequoia, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, Allianz X, MindWorks Ventures, East Ventures and 500 Startups will have shareholdings in the JV company totalling 73%. REA Group will be the largest shareholder with a 27% shareholding. REA Group will also contribute USD$8 million in working capital to the joint venture.
The transfer of REA Group’s Singapore and Indonesia businesses to the JV company will result in an immaterial profit on sale. It will also result in a small increase in EBITDA for the Asian segment as those businesses were in early investment stage. The JV company will be equity accounted as an associate.
Darius Cheung will become CEO of the JV company while Henry Ruiz and REA Group Chief Financial Officer, Janelle Hopkins will represent REA Group’s interest as Non-Executive board directors. The transaction, which remains subject to confirmatory due diligence, is anticipated to be completed in Q2FY20, while the new JV company will be fully operational across both Singapore and Indonesia in early 2020.
Mr Paul Ho, chief mortgage officer at iCompareLoan, commenting on the creation of the proptech giant with the joint-venture said, “The rising number of consolidations of online portals and tech groups reflect the explosion in popularity and growing depth of the “proptech” industry.”
He added, “the joint venture is a testament to the advancing proptech innovations and improving the real estate industry for their clients. Through the partnership they will be able to provide added value and service to their clients which could be the best-in-class in real estate platform.”
In keeping up with proptech revolution that is exploding everywhere, property agents “must upgrade or die”, said Mr Ho. He noted that many property agencies struggle to keep up with all the regulatory changes in the industry, as well as the changing financial calculations for acquiring a property. He urged property agents to master the basics in property financing, refinancing, taxation and CPF.
Mr Ho said that iCompareLoan.com runs a full 2 – 3 days course on how property agents can produce such reports for their customers. He added that the trademarked course teaches Property Agents how to generate complicated Financial calculations using – Home Loan Report (TM) – in 3 mins flat. This helps Property agents to close deals faster and serve customers more professionally.
Proptech is technology and real estate coming together to propel the real estate industry forward. The proptech ecosystem is flourishing now in many parts of the world, thanks in large part to ample venture capital, community efforts in local tech hubs, and an increasing realisation that there is a real need for innovation in the sector.
Proptech will have an impact on traditional business operating models. Whether this impact turns out to be positive or negative depends largely on how real estate players will use them to their advantage. These technologies are however still a long way away from replacing human judgment, touch, and ability to react to dynamic changes, which are all critical to the decision-making process.