Daily Mail Will Merge Online Property Biz with Zoopla

Oct 14 (Reuters) – British media group Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) said it agreed to merge its online property business with Zoopla Ltd, a property search and information firm, as it looks to gain market share from Rightmove , Britain’s most visited property website.

As part of the deal, the consumer media business of DMGT, A&N Media, will retain a 55 percent stake in the newly-formed company, with Zoopla holding the rest. Zoopla operates the property search website Zoopla.co.uk.

“In a market that has had a single dominant player in Rightmove for many years, this will create a viable and effective alternative for estate agents and housebuilders across the UK,” DMGT said in a statement.

The company, whose flagship Daily Mail newspaper is Britain’s top-selling mid-market tabloid, warned last month that it expected full-year earnings to be at the lower end of forecasts after weak advertising, particularly in travel and retail, hit its consumer business.

In August, the company agreed to sell its U.S. retail trade show management business for about 106 million pounds to private equity firm Providence Equity Partners.

DMGT’s shares, which are down almost 30 percent since the beginning of the year, were trading up about 1 percent at 398.8 pence by 0956 GMT on Friday on the London Stock Exchange, outperforming a 0.7 percent rise in the FTSE mid-cap index .

Zoopla’s backers include Atlas Venture, Octopus, and Silicon Valley Bank.