Irish Times buys MyHome.ie for €50m

 

The Irish Times Ltd, publisher of The Irish Times, has bought MyHome.ie, the leading online property portal. The deal values the business at up to €50 million, comprising an initial payment of €40 million and an additional payment of €10 million deferred over a five-year period.

The deferred payments are tied to targets set out in the business plan for MyHome.ie, said Maeve Donovan, the managing director of The Irish Times.

"MyHome will continue to operate on a standalone basis but availing of revenue and operational synergies which can be brought by The Irish Times Group," she said.

The three estate agents who are the largest shareholders in the business will continue to support the site and advertise their property listings on it, said Ms Donovan. Chief executive Jim Miley, who is also a shareholder, will continue to manage the business.

The acquisition is part of The Irish Times's strategy of developing a major digital media business, said Ms Donovan.

Liam Kavanagh, the finance director of The Irish Times, said the company was comfortable with the price paid and that "it was within the range of similar deals within the sector". The deal will be financed mostly from The Irish Times's own resources, but there will be some borrowings, which will be on a non-recourse basis to The Irish Times, he said. The Irish Times was advised by NCB Corporate Finance.

MyHome.ie was founded in 2001 by estate agents Sherry FitzGerald, Douglas Newman Good and Gunne Residential.

Sherry FitzGerald holds a 25 per cent stake, while the other two agents have 20 per cent stakes, as does AIB. The balance is held by employees and other investors.

Over 850 estate agents advertise on the site, which is visited by more than 300,000 users each month with approximately 29 million page views in May 2006.

In the year to December 2005, the company reported earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of € 2 million on turnover of €5 million. Forecast EBITDA and turnover for the year ending December 2006 is expected to be € 2.5 million and € 6.2 million respectively.

MyHome.ie contains properties for rent and purchase and vendors dealing with the main auctioneers often take space on the site in addition to more traditional channels.

The transaction will be notified to the Competition Authority for approval.