Ricardo, Homegate and Scout24 now under one roof

In the fight against Google and Co., the media houses TX Group and Ringier as well as the insurer Mobiliar are teaming up: Together with growth investor General Atlantic, they are founding a new digital company that will bundle 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 bringing the online platforms Ricardo, Tutti.ch, Homegate and Car For You into 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 start-ups that are ploughing 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 decisive prerequisite for further successful development is to increase the relevance of the offers for the users. In this way, more efficiency can be offered to business customers.

Brands remain

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

The new company should get off the ground quickly, he said. The closing of the transaction is planned for the autumn, Nötzli said. The merger does not require the approval of the Swiss Competition Commission. 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. An IPO is planned in the medium term, the statement added.

The new Chairman of the Board of Directors is to be Lothar Lanz, who, among other things, is the 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.

The board of directors will also include Jörn Nikolay, Olivier Rihs, Mobiliar boss Michèle Rodoni, Pietro Supino and Ringier boss Marc Walder. (SDA)

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