Newspaper groups eye more property site acquisitions

LONDON - Newspaper groups seeking to buy into internet media properties have turned their focus to two property websites, Rightmove and Primelocation.

According to the Daily Telegraph, both have received approaches from newspaper groups, which are likely to include News Corporation, the Daily Mail & General Trust and Trinity Mirror.

All have already snapped up property sites, with Propertyfinder.com going to News Corp last month for £14.3m, Smartnewhomes.com going to Trinity Mirror in July for £11.3m, and Findaproperty.com going to DMGT in November 2004 for £13.8m.

Rightmove was founded in 2000 by estate agent Countrywide, and is jointly owned by four of the UK's biggest estate agency chains -- Halifax, Royal & Sun Alliance, Connells and Countrywide -- and claims to be the largest classified advertising property portal. Its latest results show profits of £2.3m on turnover of £9.2m.

It is believed to be wary of selling to a newspaper group due to estate agents' fears that they would end up paying more for advertising on the site. It has said it is working towards a stockmarket flotation next year, which would maintain its independence.

Primelocation was launched in 2001 by a consortium of more than 200 estate agents, and attracts more than 850,000 visitors a month. It also publishes a monthly property magazine hand-delivered to 110,000 London homes.

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