Tuesday August 2, 2006

Irish Web Site Bought For 50 Million Euro was bought for 50 million Euro by The Irish Times

By Colm Heatley

An Irish internet website which advertises property across the country has been bought for 50M Euro by Irish Times Ltd, the publisher of the Irish Times newspaper.

The deal, completed this week, will see Irish Times Ltd pay an initial 40M Euro, followed by an additional 10M Euro over the next five years for

It is one of the highest prices paid for an Irish site and its purchase is expected to stimulate further interest in other Irish portals.

The website, which is visited by more than 300,000 people each month, was established in 2001 by estate agents, Douglas Newman Good, Sherry FitzGerald and Gunne Residential.

More than 850 estate agents advertise on the site, which had almost 29 million page views in May 2006.

"MyHome will continue to operate on a standalone basis but availing of revenue and operational synergies which can be brought by the Irish Times Group," said Maeve Donovan, director of the Irish Times.

The purchase is part of the Irish Times strategy of developing a major digital media business, according to Ms Donovan.

The Irish Times has had mixed fortunes in its financial gambles with the internet.

In 2000 the company was forced to lay of dozens of staff because of an over investment in its then newly founded website.

However MyHome represents a better business opportunity, because of its established credentials and the continued booming property market. The site offers properties for rent and sale.

The three estate agents who founded it will continue to advertise with it.

Last year MyHome reported earnings of 2M Euro on a turnover of 5M.

The 50M Euro sale of has focused attention on Ireland's small number of internet companies, particularly, another online property firm.

Daft was established in 1999 by two schoolboy brothers on their summer holidays.

It now advertises over 30,000 properties, both for rent and sale.

Daft is smaller than MyHome, but is seen as an attractive target with a strong brand name.

Daft Media, the company behind Daft, made a profit of about 96,000 Euro in the year to the end of June 2005, according to its latest accounts, which do not disclose revenue. Its promoters say it will earn 800,000 Euro plus this year.

In light of the price paid for MyHome, market sources now believe that Daft could be valued at about 20 million Euro.

Other internet firms that are attracting attention include Web Reservations International (WRI), a Dublin firm that runs a network of hostel booking websites. It made an operating profit of €10.3 million in 2004.

WRI would be worth 257.5 million Euro.

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