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Trade Me wins clearance to buy Homes site

Trade Me is now free to purchase online property sales site Homes.co.nz after the Commerce Commission cleared the acquisition of parent PropertyNZ Limited.

The final decision follows the resolution of several stumbling blocks the commission identified in a Statement of Unresolved issues released in June which suggested the deal may not be cleared.

However, the commission has had a change of heart.

“We are aware of the harm to competition that can arise when a larger firm buys a growing competitor, and we thoroughly tested whether Homes would develop into a significant competitor,” said Commission chair Anna Rawlings in a statement today.

“However, evidence received since we issued our Statement of Unresolved Issues has satisfied us Homes is unlikely to become a significant competitor for real estate listings.” 

Trade Me’s Property division is the nation’s largest online residential listings platform, while Homes also displays listings on its website. However, the latter’s primary focus is providing property data/information to consumers, such as estimating house values.

In June, the commission also expressed concerns that the sale could make it harder for other property platforms to set up or grow by combining the respective strengths of Trade Me and Homes (ie listings and property data/information) into a single entity.

However, Rawlings said the commission is now satisfied that the proposed acquisition is unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any New Zealand market.

“We are … satisfied that any benefits that Trade Me may obtain from combining its listings offering with Homes’ information/data offering would not substantially affect the ability of rival platforms to compete in the market. These rivals include industry-owned Realestate.co.nz and OneRoof, which is owned by NZME,” said Rawlings.

Image credit: @JulieK via Twenty20.

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