Property merger gets thumbs-up

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THE proposed merger of two of the UK’s biggest players in the online property sector has been cleared by the Office of Fair Trading.

Zoopla, which powers hartlepoolmail.co.uk/property, is the firm behind Findaproperty.com and Primelocation.com

The deal will create new competition for the £1.3billion Rightmove property business by bringing together the second, third and fourth biggest property websites in the UK.

Evidence received by the OFT during its investigation found that the merger would not result in reduced competition and consequently did not warrant reference to the Competition Commission for further investigation.

The merger, once completed, is set to be a big win for consumers and advertisers alike, with far greater coverage of property listings and an unrivalled consumer audience across the UK.

The combined business will be in a position to offer an enhanced product to its users and superior value proposition to its members.

The merger will bring together a complementary set of brands including Findaproperty.com, Zoopla.co.uk and Primelocation.com and will result in the creation of a world-class property search platform and a team that continues to lead innovation in the online property market.

Alex Chesterman, founder and CEO of Zoopla.co.uk, said: “We have always been firmly of the view that this transaction is pro-competitive and is good news for both our users and customers.

“We are glad to be in a position now to be able to get on with the business of making the proposed benefits a reality. We have much work to do to integrate our businesses and are looking forward to the opportunities ahead.”

Mark Milner, CEO of the Digital Property Group said, “This is an important day for the industry, given the long-awaited balance in the market that this deal will deliver.

“It has been a long time coming and the enhanced value that the combined business will provide will make this deal a clear win for UK estate agents, letting agents and housebuilders.”