99.co snaps up iProperty and Rumah123 to dominate SG and Indonesia market

Property digital advertising conglomerate REA Group has established a joint venture with Singapore-headquartered digital property marketplace, 99.co to create the largest customer and listings footprint 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, which will contribute US$8 million in working capital to the joint venture, will be the largest shareholder with a 27% shareholding. The joint venture company will be established through the transfer of the existing businesses of 99.co and REA Group (iProperty.com.sg and Rumah123.com) in Singapore and Indonesia. The combined company seeks to 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, said a press release.

Core to the joint venture company will be harnessing the know-how and capability of REA Group, which owns portals for property seekers across Singapore (iproperty.com.sg), Malaysia (iproperty.com.my), Indonesia (rumah123.com), Thailand (thinkofliving.com), Hong Kong (squarefoot.com.hk) and China (myfun.com).

Meanwhile, the company also looks to 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, said the press release. 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 SG$25 million deal.

REA Group CEO Owen Wilson said the Singapore marketplace is "ripe for disruption" and joining forces with 99.co would create the market 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,” he explained.

REA Group, chief strategy officer and CEO Asia, Henry Ruiz added: “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.”

According to Cheung, REA Group shares 99.co's "customer-centric, relationship-driven approach" and the joint venture company would provide the best value for property professionals. It also sets the scene for both parties to create the top place for property seekers in Singapore and Indonesia, he said.

Cheung will become CEO of the company while Ruiz and REA group chief financial 0fficer, Janelle Hopkins will represent REA Group’s interest as non-executive board directors. The transaction is anticipated to be completed in the second quarter of financial year 2020, and the new JV company is expected to be fully operational across both Singapore and Indonesia early next year.

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