Housing.com may get $100 million from Chinese group Fosun
Mumbai: Fosun International Ltd, the investment arm of China’s biggest closely held conglomerate, is in initial talks to invest about $100 million in Locon Solutions Pvt. Ltd, the owner of property website Housing.com, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
Fosun group has approached Housing.com through its investment arm, confirmed the two people. One of them said that Housing.com is on the road to raise another round of funding and this proposal could be considered as part of that fund raising.
“Rahul Yadav, chief executive officer, had a meeting with Fosun Group management in the last week of May and the discussions are still at initial stages,” said the first person cited above.
“If the deal goes through, it should help Housing.com to enter a new line of business. Over the last couple of months, Housing has been working with a few real estate developers to sell them pre-designed buildings which can then be sold on Housing.com,” he added.
There are about 20,000 real estate developers in the country and most of them do everything in-house from design and construction to sales and marketing. Housing.com plans to work with these developers to sell them standard pre-designed houses, designed by reputed houses. These houses will then be marketed and sold on Housing.com.
Housing.com declined to comment. An email sent to the Fosun group on Friday was not answered.
“If Fosun is interested in Housing.com, then it is an indicator that companies are seeing potential in integrating bricks and clicks in the longer run,” said Ramesh Nair, chief operating officer, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) India.
Even though such a model is difficult to implement, given the complexities involved in the real estate sector in India, consultants say that online enquiries can be a useful source of information for developers.
“The online platform can be used as a tool by real estate developers to know the pulse of the buyers. The requirement of the buyers can be assessed through the data of online platforms, which can then be used by developers to plan projects,” said Sanjay Dutt, executive managing director, South Asia at Cushman and Wakefield.
Dutt added that interest in India investments from Chinese investors is not surprising given the slowdown in the Chinese economy and the country’s plans to rebalance their economy towards consumption.
“Chinese investors want to invest more than 50% of their future investments outside the country. Besides the US and Europe, they are keen for investments in India in backdrop of revived economy,” he said.
Shanghai-based Fosun group is a $10-billion conglomerate which, among other businesses, also has a construction business and a real estate investment business in China. Fosun Property Holdings, the property investment and management platform of Fosun Group, has an exposure in 26 cities across China with assets under management at renminbi 140 billion ($22 billion), according to its website.
For Housing.com, this will be the fifth round of institutional fund raising.
In December 2014, parent firm Locon Solutions had raised about $88 million from a clutch of investors, including Qualcomm Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, DST Global Lp, Falcon Edge Capital Lp, SoftBank Corporate, Digital Nirvana Fund Co. Ltd and Helion Venture Partners III Llc. Till date, Housing.com has raised about $120 million across four rounds.
Since discussions are at an early stage, the valuation at which the proposed funding will be raised could not be ascertained.
According to a 17 December report in The Times of India, the funding round closed in December valued Housing.com at around $250 million (Rs.1,550 crore).
“Housing’s traffic has increased by over 20 times over the last six months and attracted over 11 million total visits in April, highest among all online real estate portals in India,” said the second person cited above. Mint could not independently verify these claims since the company is not publicly traded and does not declare this data to the stock exchanges.
On 19 May, Housing.com said that it will expand its offerings to 101 cities across India from 55 earlier.
Founded in June 2012 by a group of 12 IIT Bombay alumni, Housing.com has been in the news over the past couple of months, following an alleged boardroom battle between CEO Rahul Yadav and some of its existing investors.
In India, Housing.com competes with IndiaHomes.com, Indiaproperty.com, Commonfloor.com, 99acres.com, magicbricks.com and PropTiger.com.
Real estate classifieds have the potential to become the largest category within online vertical classifieds, over the next five years, overtaking jobs classifieds, said a report ‘India Internet: Raring to go’ by Nomura Research in 2014.
According to VCCedge data, 2014 saw eight private equity and venture capital deals worth $141 million in real estate portals. In 2013, only five such deals worth $10.7 billion were closed.
Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.