MagicBricks raises Rs30 crore from Times Internet

MagicBricks will use the funds towards brand building initiatives, product development, seller development activities and curating information on the portal, CEO Sudhir Pai said


Started in 2006 as a business owned by Times Business Solutions Ltd, MagicBricks was hived off as a separate entity in 2015.
Started in 2006 as a business owned by Times Business Solutions Ltd, MagicBricks was hived off as a separate entity in 2015.

New Delhi: Property listings website MagicBricks has raised Rs30 crore from its parent Times Internet Ltd, documents filed with the Registrar of Companies show.

Times Internet subscribed to 30 million or 10% non cumulative optionally redeemable preference shares of MagicBricks Realty Services Ltd, which runs MagicBricks.com, on 3 January, according to the documents.

The company will use the funds towards brand building initiatives, product development, seller development activities and curating information on the portal, chief executive officer Sudhir Pai said.

“We see ourselves playing a much larger, more helpful role in the property buying or renting process of a consumer. Our primary effort is to further scale the core platform from a traffic and a listing acquisition perspective. We’re aiming to have over 85% of all available properties to be listed on MagicBricks and to aggregate over 50% of all property seekers on our site,” he said.

In September, the company had passed a resolution to increase the authorized share capital to Rs145 crore from Rs85 crore earlier. It approved issuance of Rs60 crore worth of preference shares “to accommodate the funding requirements which includes funds required for meeting the working capital requirements and for other purposes.”

Started in 2006 as a business owned by Times Business Solutions Ltd, MagicBricks was hived off as a separate entity in 2015. The venture is currently a 100% subsidiary of Times Internet.

MagicBricks, along with Info Edge Ltd owned 99acres, represents the first generation of property portals that came up mid 2000s. Post 2010, the sector saw the entry of Housing.com (run by Mumbai based Locon Solutions Pvt. Ltd.) in 2012 and NoBroker in 2014.

However, owing to prolonged sluggishness in the real estate market and limitations arriving out of high cash guzzling business models (a large part of cash is spent on advertising and promotions), the space saw major consolidation deals in the recent past.

Earlier this year, SoftBank-backed Housing.com merged with real estate advisory firm PropTiger (Elara Technologies Pte. Ltd). The deal valued Housing.com at $70-75 million, significantly lower than $250 million, the valuation it received after SoftBank poured $100 million in 2014.

In January last year, CommnFloor, which came up in 2007, was sold to classifieds portal Quikr in a distress sale orchestrated by Tiger Global Management, an investor in both the companies. Quikr paid $120 million for CommonFloor, lower than its last determined valuation of $150 million. Makaan.com, another early entrant in the space, was acquired by PropTiger in 2015.

“In the online sector we have what we usually call the ‘winner-takes-all’ model. So I would expect more consolidation to happen that will ultimately leave us with 2-3 players, and they would be there because they would have something different in terms of business model or focus area,” said Harish HV, partner at Grant Thornton India LLP, a consulting firm.

MagicBricks and 99acres are generally believed to be the leading firms in the space. While credible data on sales made or rental deals closed on the platforms is not available, MagicBricks leads the stack in terms of traffic.

MagicBricks.com received 2.19 million unique visitors in January, compared to 1.26 million on 99acres.com and 433,000 on CommonFloor.com, according to figures from media analytics firm comScore. The data represent traffic on the desktop site only and is an estimated average calculated over the preceding three months. Nobroker and PropTiger fared at fourth and fifth spot, respectively.

Since advertising and paid listings by sellers form a major chunk of the revenue for online property portals, traffic is seen as a critical metrics. Beside this, these firms typically bundle leads (details of a potential buyers) and sell them off to sellers.

In terms of revenue, too, MagicBricks was better placed than rivals. In 2015-16, the company posted operating loss of Rs78 crore on total revenue of Rs126 crore, according to ROC filings. 99acres, in comparison, posted Rs91 crore of operational losses on net sales of Rs110 crore, as per details in Info Edge’s annual report.

Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd., which owns Times Internet, and Mint compete in certain areas.

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