Ricardo, Homegate and Scout24 now under one roof

In the battle against Google and Co., the media houses TX Group and Ringier and the insurer Mobiliar are teaming up: Together with growth investor General Atlantic, they are founding a new digital company that bundles well-known online marketplaces such as Homegate, Ricardo, Tutti.ch and the Scout24 Group.

Scout24 CEO Gilles Despas (left) becomes CEO of the joint venture, Olivier Rihs is on the Board of Directors.

The new joint venture is set to become one of the largest in Switzerland, according to a joint statement on Tuesday. TX Group is contributing the online platforms Ricardo, Tutti.ch, Homegate and Car For You to the joint venture. Ringier and Mobiliar will contribute the platforms ImmoScout24, AutoScout24, MotoScout24, FinanceScout24 and Anibis.ch.

"The fourth shareholder will be the global growth investor General Atlantic, which supports the group with its long-standing international expertise in the field of digital marketplaces," the partners further wrote.

Competition gets tougher

Despite strong growth in recent years, the company is facing increasing competition from global international competitors and fast-growing startups that are plowing up the market. In addition, the demands of customers are increasing.

"Combining forces to form one of the largest digital companies in Switzerland will enable us to create a competitive Swiss marketplace offering and thus act as a pioneer in the Swiss market," the communiqué said. "The new joint venture will combine the expertise of existing teams and digital talent to drive the development of innovative digital products and services."

"We are convinced that by bringing together our strong marketplaces we will promote their further growth," said TX Group President Pietro Supino. The key prerequisite for further successful development, he said, is to increase the relevance of the offerings for users. In this way, business customers can be offered greater efficiency.

Brands remain

The total of 1,000 employees of the marketplaces will all be taken over by the new company, said TX spokeswoman Ursula Nötzli in response to a question from the AWP news agency. The various marketplaces would also all be retained. There were no plans to change anything about the brands.

The new company is expected to get off the ground quickly, he said. Closing of the transaction is planned for the fall, Nötzli said. The merger does not require the approval of the Swiss Federal Competition Commission Weko. However, discussions had been sought with the Weko.

All parties would hold minority stakes in the joint venture. TX Group is said to hold 31 percent, Ringier and Mobiliar 29.5 percent each, and General Atlantic 10 percent. The four shareholders each hold 25 percent of the voting rights. The independent group is pursuing an IPO as a medium-term goal.

The joint venture also aims to attract new shareholders. In the medium term, an IPO is planned, the statement added.

The new Chairman of the Board of Directors is to be Lothar Lanz, who is, among other things, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Home24 SE and previously held positions on the boards of Zalando and Axel Springer. Gilles Despas - currently CEO of the Scout24 Schweiz Group - is envisaged as CEO of the new company.

In addition, Jörn Nikolay, Olivier Rihs, Mobiliar CEO Michèle Rodoni, Pietro Supino and Ringier CEO Marc Walder are to be members of the Board of Directors. (SDA)

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