Is it time for Rupert Murdoch to Move on?
Murdoch’s News Corporation is in talks to sell Move Inc, the parent company of listings giant Realtor.com, to CoStar Group, Reuters reported. The move would further entrench CoStar in the residential space, following major acquisitions such as Apartments.com and HomeSnap.
The publication did not have any financial details on the potential deal. News Corp. shelled out nearly $1 billion in 2014 to acquire Move. “What the hell does Zillow mean?” Murdoch told a gathering of real estate agents soon after the acquisition. “We know what ‘realtor’ means.” A deal with CoStar would value Move at about $3 billion, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. News Corp. owns an 80 percent stake in Move, with the rest being controlled by REA, a digital real estate subsidiary also controlled by News Corp. In 2013, prior to the acquisition by News Corp., Move’s revenues were $227 million; according to an investor presentation cited by Insider, revenues hit $700 million in the 2022 fiscal year.
CoStar, led by Andy Florance, has become a major player in residential real estate data over the past decade, spending more than $2 billion on acquisitions since 2014. It bought Apartments.com for $585 million in 2014, and paid $385 million in 2017 for rental listing site ForRent.com. In 2020, it acquired HomeSnap, a residential search portal for $250 million. That same year, it also struck a deal to buy RentPath, a holding company for listings sites, out of bankruptcy, but that deal fell through after the Federal Trade Commission sued to block the sale over antitrust concerns.
CoStar’s current market cap is $32 billion, more than double what it was in 2018. At the time of the HomeSnap deal, Florance, who built CoStar up into a behemoth of commercial real estate data, pointed to the size of the residential market as a reason to branch out.
“The estimated value of commercial real estate assets in the U.S. is $16 trillion,” he said at the time, while the residential sector totaled $27 trillion in assets. “With the new addition of clients and information … we are almost tripling the size of our addressable markets.”
On Tuesday, Murdoch scrapped a proposal to combine News Corp. with his other major enterprise, Fox Corporation.