Private Property concluded an exciting deal that saw South Africa’s leading property portal undergo a change in ownership.
Marc Maurel: Simon, so the future is looking really bright for Private Property. Why don't you tell us a bit more about the change in ownership?
Simon Bray: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it's a very exciting time for the business. We've obviously gone through a few years of exciting growth, and the market is starting to mature in South Africa, people are coming online more and more to find their new home. And we're one of those destination platforms for that. So we are obviously an exciting business for investors to be involved in, and we went through a process during the course of last year looking for the right fit, the right strategic partners to take the business now to the next level. And I think we've found it. We've found an excellent fit between the real estate industry themselves, who are heavily invested in what we do and how we do it, and looking to us, perhaps, as a driver of innovation and change in their world. And we've got this exciting new media partner in Caxton Media that have this incredible regional network and brands that people know and respond to, and there's this legacy component to what they offer. And I think we get to add a new-school veneer to all of that. So the mix is very strong, and we're excited about what it could do for our business.
Marc Maurel: So Caxton, obviously, JSE listed company. One of the largest media companies in the country, but with a local presence in newspapers. Like I would know Beyond Berea, Berea Mail, as well as Get It magazines, but they're a publishing company, they're a print publishing company. Why are they interested in the digital space?
Simon Bray: Yeah, I mean, like any large-scale media company, I think it's exciting for them to look at the different media channels. And there's been so much evolution in that space globally, and locally. Print used to be the mainstay of how you communicate with local communities, and I think, to some extent, it still is. There's a very strong readership and following for papers like the Berea Mail and others. I mean, Caxton have hundreds of these publications across South Africa. But there is also this great scale to digital traffic, digital audience, and we're one of those platforms where people are finding themselves online. And I think Caxton, like any large media company, needs to have a presence in the digital universe, and we're one of the assets that allow them to do that. I think they've got a great digital vision of where they want to go as a media company in South Africa, and I think what's unique is whilst a lot of media companies are focused beyond the borders of our country, they're a very South Africa-first brand. And that's what we like about it as well. South Africa's really important to Private Property. We want to be part of building the nation's story. Property is a great way to do that. And Caxton are a perfect fit from that perspective as well because all of their assets are local, real strategic focus on where they drive South Africa's economy. And we're hoping to play a massive part of that, particularly on the digital side of their growth.
Marc Maurel: So now we know what it's going to do for Caxton. What is it going to do for Private Property, and perhaps just the ordinary consumer shop that's out there?
Simon Bray: Property is something that-- it's a long search process. Finding your home is not instant. We'd like to certainly shorten that cycle, make it more convenient, make it simpler. But it's a highly emotional decision. It's got a key financial component to it. So it's never going to be an easy fix, right? And I think what's exciting about this relationship and this future that we've got in Private Property is the ability to drive the property search through multimedia channels. So now, it's not just about the digital platform, although that's going to be core to what we do. But it's also about the local paper and what advertising reach can go in there for our real estate partners, and how local communities want to interact with that through print. And there's a network and a kind of syndication effect that we've got through the Caxton Media Group. So they own a number of other assets, and so you'll start seeing farms pop-up and Farmer's Weekly, and their website offerings. And so, I think this is going to be a greater reach to what we do. And so you, as a consumer, will have to make less effort to find the property that best suits your need.
Marc Maurel: So Private Property went from being this single-use website that I could go on and sell my property on, to now partnering with real estate agents, developers, etc., a lot of industry guys, to this phenomenal portal that you have at the moment. This must be really exciting for your partners and for the guys that have come on board and joined the journey of Private Property. What does it look like for the future for them?
Simon Bray: Well, I think that's what's fascinating about this mix of ownership that we now have in the business. We've got a representative base of shareholders from the real estate industry themselves, so guys that use our platform on a daily basis to advertise their listings to South Africa. They obviously have a vested interest in our platform performing, driving buyers to their properties, to their show days, and so they were very excited to partner with our business. And then the Caxton relationship, obviously, that's an opportunity for us to grow up, right? We're this website, kind of go it alone independent business, and now we're part of a massive media group. And so the partnership is very exciting, I think, for anybody in the real estate industry that uses Private Property to touch the consumer because there is a greater scale to what we're going to be doing. There is a greater opportunity and access for our business through the Caxton network.
Marc Maurel: Simon, so the future does look really bright for SA's favorite property portal?
Simon Bray: I think so. I mean, I think this is going to be a season where the business really starts to fly. We've got the right partners in place. We've got a passionate team of people that are enthusiastic about the innovation that we're bringing to the market. We've got some exciting new products for property shoppers in the wings. So I think it's going to be an excellent season for the business.
Marc Maurel: Excellent. So thanks so much for talking to me, and best of luck for the year ahead.