Cashed-up REA to buy 'instant valuer' for $130 million

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News Corp's REA Group has celebrated a year of stellar growth by buying property data provider Hometrack Australia for $130 million, almost half of which will come from cash on hand.

A subsidiary of UK-based Hometrack Data Systems - in turn owned by Zoopla Property Group - the company provides instant online residential property valuations. Its Automated Valuation model combines advanced predictive modelling with "unique proprietary data and industry expertise".

Zoopla - which is partly owned by Daily Mail publisher DMGT - bought Hometrack last year for £120 million ($215 million).

The deal with REA Group is subject to ACCC and regulatory approval.

REA has just reported a 20 per cent jump in revenue to $592 million and growth of EBITDA from core operations of 21 per cent to $345 million. In its third-quarter report, News says REA Group revenues increased by 35 per cent on the previous year, "primarily due to an increase in Australian residential depth revenue, driven by favourable product mix and pricing increases, as well as higher financial services revenues driven by the acquisition of Smartline".

Hometrack Australia's financial year ends in September, when revenue between $13-15 million and EBITDA between $6-7 million is forecast. Australian management are understood to be staying on under chief executive Brendan Darcy, although cost synergies are expected within REA Group once the two are fully integrated.

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