(Private Property)
  • Private Property, the company behind the .co.za website by the same name, has just been valued at R254 million in a transfer of ownership deal.
  • The JSE-listed Cognition Holdings is buying Private Property, but in an all-share deal that will make Cognition a subsidiary of the property website's current owners, Caxton and CTP.
  • Information around the deal shows that Private Property is on track to make an after-tax profit of around R30 million this year.

The company behind real estate listing website PrivateProperty.co.za has been valued at R254 million in a deal that effectively transfers its majority ownership to a new holding company.

Private Property has only R32.4 million in assets, according to information released on the deal – but is on track to make an after-tax profit of around R30 million in its current financial year.

JSE-listed technology company Cognition Holdings on Monday announced it intends to buy 50.01% of Private Property from listed media company Caxton and CTP for R127 million, for an implied valuation of R254 million. But the purchase would be settled entirely in shares, which would make Caxton the majority owner of Cognition, so there will be "no ultimate change of control", the companies said.

Caxton should end up owning around 72% of Cognition, the latter's CEO Mark Smith told Business Insider South Africa. Caxton currently owns 34.7% of Cognition.

The remainder of Private Property is owned by a mixture of founders and estate agents who have bought into the company over time, he said.

In late 2016, Private Property seemed set to be bought by the Naspers-owned Property24, in what would have been a significant consolidation in the property-listing market. But estate agents threatened a revolt if the merger were to proceed.

A year later Caxton bought a little over half of Private Property from holding company One Africa Media as part of a consortium "assisted" by the Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa organisation. Minority stakeholders in the consortium included "industry participants with a deep understanding of the market", Private Property said at the time.

Cognition helps companies reach consumers via mechanisms such as SMS and interactive voice response systems, and wants to be "a single source of truth about consumer data", Smith said. That includes acting as a "middleware" provider, allowing consumers to share their data with brands.

Just how that will apply to PrivateProperty.co.za is not yet clear. The intention is to let the website continue as an independent company, said Smith, probably with some help "enhancing database capacity".

Business Insider SA is part of 24.com, a subsidiary of Media24, a Naspers company. 

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