99 Group raises funds after Carousell takeover talks collapse

·2-min read
(PHOTO: Carousell/99 Group)
(PHOTO: Carousell/99 Group)

By Olivia Poh

(Bloomberg) — Carousell Pte Ltd’s bid to buy property portal 99 Group fell through after the online classifieds marketplace ended talks to go public via a merger with a blank-cheque company, according to a person familiar with the matter.

99 Group terminated the talks after Carousell failed to reach a merger agreement with L Catterton Asia Acquisition Corp., a key part of the deal, the person said, asking not to be named as the matter is private. Representatives for Carousell and 99 Group declined to comment.

A combination of Carousell and 99 Group would have united two major Singaporean online listings companies, allowing them to challenge rivals such as real-estate portal PropertyGuru Pte. as home prices rise in the affluent island nation. Enthusiasm for deals with special purpose acquisition companies has waned amid heightened market volatility with a growing number of prominent deals fizzling out.

99 Group has decided to raise additional capital to keep expanding its business, it said in a statement Thursday. The property portal is raising US$52 million in a funding round led by Gaw Capital to build up capabilities and branch out to other markets in Southeast Asia.

Carousell had offered more than US$150 million in cash and stock to acquire 99 Group, a person familiar with the matter said in February. It was among multiple bidders interested in the property portal, another person said.

99 Group, launched in 2014, runs online property classifieds platforms including 99.co, SRX, iProperty.com.sg and Rumah123.com, according to its website. The company also has a presence in Indonesia and counts Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, Sequoia Capital India, East Ventures and REA Group among investors.

Carousell’s bid for 99 Group was a sign of its ambitions to deepen its presence in high-ticket categories including property while it mulls an exit strategy. The company recently acquired platforms including sneaker marketplace Ox Street, secondhand fashion retailer Refash and smartphone reseller Laku6.

Founded in 2012 by Siu Rui Quek, Marcus Tan and Lucas Ngoo, Carousell last year raised funds at a US$1.1 billion valuation. The marketplace, which counts Telenor ASA, Rakuten Ventures, Naver, and Sequoia Capital India among its backers, is in eight markets across Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong, allowing users to buy and sell a diverse range of products including cars, houses, gadgets and fashion accessories.

—With assistance from Yoolim Lee.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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