News Corp., the global media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, plans to buy Move Inc. for $950 million in an all-cash deal.
Move is based in Silicon Valley, but its largest facilities and most of its operations are in Westlake Village. Despite a strategic partnership with the National Association of Realtors that lets Move list virtually every property from various Multiple Listing Services around the nation, the company has earned only modest profits and lagged behind competitors Trulia and Zillow, which announced plans to merge in a deal now worth about $2.9 billion earlier this summer.
The Trulia-Zillow merger would have put Move in a distant second place in the market for online real estate ads. But earlier this month, regulators at the Federal Trade Commission signaled that they want to take a deeper look at the Trulia-Zillow deal to examine whether it diminishes competition.
The result is an opening for News Corp., which owns a 62 percent stake in leading Australian home site Realestate.com.au, to launch into the U.S. real estate market.
News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson said the company plans to obtain “high-quality geographic data” generated by real estate searches that could be used throughout the firm’s media businesses. “We certainly expect this deal to amount to far more than the sum of the parts,” Thomson said in a news release.
Under the terms of the deal, Move shareholders would receive $950 million net of Move’s existing cash balance, or about $21 per share, a 37 percent premium over Move’s recent prices. REA Group Limited, which is 62 percent owned by News Corp. and owns the Australian property listing site, would lead the deal. Afterward, 80 percent of Move will be owned directly by News Corp. and 20 percent will be owned by REA Group. News Corp. plans to start buying shares within 10 days. Move’s board of directors has approved the deal.
Move’s biggest shareholders are private-equity firms FMR, BlackRock, S.A.C. Capital Advisors and Park West Asset Management, which own one-third of the firm, according to documents filed in June. CEO Steve Berkowitz holds a 3 percent stake, and the National Association of Realtors holds 1.9 percent.
Move leases a 76,048-square-foot facility at 30700 Russell Ranch Road in Westlake Village and had 913 employees companywide at the end of last year.
For 2013, the company made a little more than a half million dollars of profit on $227 million in revenue.