May 22, 2014 / 6:14 AM / 4 years ago

Property website Zoopla joins rush to stock market

LONDON (Reuters) - British property website Zoopla plans to list its shares as its majority owner Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) moves to tap into the strong sentiment around the country’s property sector.

The flotation of the country’s second-largest property website behind Rightmove follows recent listings by online groups AO World and Just Eat and property agent Foxtons last year.

Zoopla said on Thursday that shares held by its existing owners, including founder Alex Chesterman, DMGT and Countrywide would be sold, giving a free float of at least 25 percent. It will not issue new shares.

CEO Chesterman declined to forecast how much the share sale would raise but told reporters he expected DMGT to remain the largest shareholder. An overallotment option of up to 15 percent of the total offer will be made available.

UBS said the listing could value the company at about 1.2 billion pounds, while analysts at Liberum value DMGT’s 52.6 percent stake at 575 million pounds.

Chesterman told reporters that Zoopla plans to launch additional products and services after the share sale and to expand into other parts of the property market, such as commercial property, with overseas expansion a possibility in the future.

”With over 40 million visits per month to our websites and mobile applications, generating over two million inquiries every month for our members, Zoopla Property Group has become an indispensable link in the property search process for consumers and the property marketing process for professionals across the UK,” he said.      

Zoopla, which launched in 2008, reported six-month revenue to March 31 of 38.3 million pounds and adjusted core earnings of 18.7 million pounds.

DMGT, the publisher of Britain’s Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday, which owns 52.6 percent of Zoopla, announced the market listing as it posted half-year operating profit up 21 percent on an underlying basis, helped by price rises for its newspaper and tight cost control.

Shares in the group, which said its forecasts remained unchanged for the year, were up 6 percent in early trade.

Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by David Goodman

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