Market takes first portal casualty

Rupert Murdoch bought Propertyfinder in 2005 for £14m via News International and it’s subsidiary from Asserta Holdings. News Corporation were reported to have paid over £50m through another subsidiary News Ltd., for it’s stake in REA which in turn owns property websites across the globe.

Propertyfinder launched in 1995 is the ‘original’ property portal listing over 300,000 properties in the UK. Recently Propertyfinder acquired it’s smaller cousin Hot Property

Asserta was a VC backed company part funded by Arts Alliance and some estate agents like Hamptons.

When she took over in early 2008, Gillian Kent was recruited to take on the battle with Rightmove. At the time she was quoted as saying “The property website market is ready for a shakeup, Rightmove’s spot as No 1 is not pre-ordained and I am looking forward to challenging their position.

Previously DMGT had paid £48m for Primelocation and a six figure sum for FindaProperty. The Guardian bought ThinkProperty and it’s software parent Vebra and Trinity Mirror spent £4.4m on

In a announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange, REA Group will “commence a review of the UK online businesses which runs Propertyfinder, Hotproperty and UK Propertyshop.”

News of all this comes from the ex-boss of REA Group, Simon Baker. On his blog he says “While a sale of the business would be the best outcome, this announcement by the REA Group appears to be laying the foundations for a potential closure of the business. The next four weeks will be very interesting.” Could he be a buyer, I wonder?