Singapore-based online classifieds platform Carousell is in negotiations to acquire 99.co, a property portal also based in the city-state, according to a report by The Business Times.
99.co is a map-based property search engine founded in 2014 that offers renters, purchasers, and agents a quick and easy property search experience. It currently operates in Singapore and Indonesia, with over 350 employees.
Carousell is proposing to pay $150 million in share swaps and cash for 99.co, according to a follow-up report by DealStreet Asia. However, another media source claims that the discussions might not result in a transaction after all.
The move to buy 99.co is ahead of Carousell’s planned listing in the US through a merger with blank-cheque company L Catterton Asia Acquisition Corp, following the same move by other companies in Singapore. The combined Carousell-L Catterton Asia entity is estimated to be worth $1.5 billion and will push through as early as this quarter if both parties reach an agreement.
According to Tech in Asia, the decision to acquire 99.co is also likely part of Carousell’s recent attempts to access high-ticket industries like automobile and luxury goods through a series of acquisitions. Carousell has acquired firms including Ox Street, Caarly, OneShift, OLX Philippines, and 701Search.
Backed by leading investors such as Telenor Group and Rakuten Ventures, Carousell Group has been operating since 2012 and has grown to dominate the classifieds market in Greater Southeast Asia.
In 2020, Carousell co-founder and CEO Quek Siu Rui announced that as the company aims to become a unicorn, it is also focusing on becoming more profitable within the next three to four years, with a potential exit in 2024 and a target valuation of at least $1.13 billion by then.
The group is present in eight markets, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, and on top of the above brands, manages Carousell, Mudah.my, Cho Tot, and OneKyat, with millions of monthly active users.
Following robust activity in mergers and acquisitions last year, experts think that the first few months of 2022 will also see a number of M&As as executives become more optimistic about their prospects.