Real estate portal Housing.com is rumoured to be in initial talks with Chinese real estate portal SouFun for either a strategic investment or a buyout, according to two undisclosed sources aware of the talks, reports ET.
The Softbank-backed portal might even have attracted the interest of China’s largest search provider Baidu. As per one of the sources above, “SouFun (executives) will be in India early next week to meet the Housing team.”
Both SoftBank and Housing.com have declined to comment on these developments.
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However, if the report is true, then such strategic interest from China will be a major boost to the management turmoil ridden Housing, which has been much in news for the wrong reasons this year following the ouster of co-founder Rahul Yadav and the ensuing acrimony with the board. As a result, of the dozen college-mates who initially started the portal, four including Yadav left. Post that, trouble seemed to be mounting for the company as they planned to lay off at least 600 employees in the next three months, as per a report in August.
The company had also sought to conclude a deal for a buyout with classifieds portal Quikr, which also did not materialize.
At present, Housing is run by an executive committee that controls finances and operations of the company. The committee is led by Jonathan Bullock, the Soft-Bank executive who replaced the investment firm’s president Nikesh Arora on the board of Housing. It is expected that to tide over the funding woes as talks progress, Softbank might even provide a $30 Mn bridge round.
SouFun’s interest in Housing may point out to the increased investor expectations from online classifieds sector. The sector is seeing increasing competition with many well-funded players such as CommonFloor, 99Acres, MagicBricks, and is ripe for M&A activity and consolidation. Recently, Housing acquired HomeBuy360, a unique cloud based Sales Lifecycle Management Platform that connects developers, agents and buyers.
Earlier this year, Housing.com had acquired Indian Real Estate Forum (IREF), a platform that provides unbiased property information to consumers and Realty BI to empower property buyers and financial institutions to assess risks and take informed decisions. The portal also crossed 1 Mn verified property listings in the Rent and Resale sections last month.
Meanwhile, rival Commonfloor has more than 1 lakh residential projects listed on its platform in 200 cities. It has already mapped 10 Mn homes with the help of its 1000+ employees.