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Sweden's EQT to buy Idealista for $1.5 billion in hot Spanish market

MADRID (Reuters) - Swedish global investment firm EQT EQTAB.ST said on Thursday it had agreed to buy Southern European online real estate ads platform Idealista for 1.3 billion euros (1.20 billion pounds), as corporate dealmaking in Spain heats up.

EQT expects the purchase of Madrid-based Idealista, which is controlled by funds advised by private equity firm Apax Partners, to close in December, pending regulatory approvals.

Spain's mergers and acquisitions market has been ignited by a series of deals within banking and telecoms, such as the tie-up between Bankia BKIA.MC and Caixabank CABK.MC and the recent purchase of MasMovil MASM.MC by a group of funds.

Investment bankers are expecting more deals to surface in Spain in both the short and medium term.

Spain’s real estate market has hit a difficult period, with stagnating prices in cities because of the coronavirus crisis and rising demand in rural areas as many Spaniards seek to avoid another urban lockdown.

Despite this, Idealista has experienced record growth in the months since the pandemic began, saying that its traffic is up to unprecedented levels, while noting buyer enthusiasm is tempered by a tougher financing climate.

Idealista, which supports around 40,000 real estate agents and receives an average 38 million unique monthly visitors, has launched a mobile app and tripled its revenue since it was bought by Apax in 2015.

“The business... is now a clear market leader in Spain and Portugal, and a strong player in Italy,” Tom Hall, a partner at Apax, said.

Reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette and Joan Faus; Editing by Inti Landauro and Alexander Smith

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