PropertyGuru set for US listing by Q1, says CEO

PropertyGuru in July last year announced plans to go public through a merger with Bridgetown 2 Holdings. PHOTO: PROPERTYGURU.COM.SG/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Real estate marketplace PropertyGuru expects to complete its listing on the New York Stock Exchange within the first quarter despite signs of waning investor interest in special purpose acquisition companies (Spacs).

The company's Form F-4 registration statement, required for the trading of shares in the US public market, was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission and declared effective on Monday (Feb 14), chief executive officer Hari Krishnan said in a business update on Tuesday.

PropertyGuru in July last year announced plans to go public through a merger with Bridgetown 2 Holdings, a blank-cheque company backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel, in a US$1.78 billion (S$2.4 billion) deal.

The transaction involves a private investment in public equity, or PIPE, of about US$100 million. PIPE investors include Baillie Gifford, Naya, REA Group, Akaris Global Partners and one of Malaysia's largest asset managers. REA Group also committed to invest an additional US$32 million.

Bridgetown 2 Holdings shares are down more than 18 per cent since its market debut in January 2021.

Spacs are increasingly falling out of favour with investors after an initial boom, following regulatory clampdowns, an oversupply of Spacs and concerns over rising interest rates. Grab went public in December in the largest Spac deal but its shares have since dived over 30 per cent.

Despite the challenging environment, Mr Krishnan is optimistic that PropertyGuru's listing will position it to benefit from post-pandemic growth.

He said the company recorded a 17.9 per cent revenue growth in the first half of 2021 compared with a year before.

In Singapore, PropertyGuru increased agent subscription prices on average by 15 per cent in November 2021. Mr Krishnan said the company believes this was "enabled by rising property prices, solid agent and consumer confidence and PropertyGuru's strong market position".

In Vietnam, new property listings on Batdongsan.com.vn increased 4.5 times in December 2021 compared with August 2021. This was "driven by a sharp recovery in real estate market activity as the Vietnamese government eased Covid-19-related lockdown measures in Q4 2021", Mr Krishnan added.

In Malaysia, PropertyGuru has integrated iProperty.com.my into its operations and will focus on cross-selling opportunities.

"We believe the region's property market will have a strong recovery driven by positive fundamentals of urbanisation, digitalisation and a rising middle class," Mr Krishnan said.

PropertyGuru's rival 99 Group, which runs marketplaces 99.co, iProperty.com.sg and Rumah123.com, is in talks to be acquired by online classifieds unicorn Carousell, The Business Times reported last week.

The negotiations come ahead of a potential public listing for Carousell, which is in the midst of merger discussions with blank-cheque company L Catterton Asia Acquisition. Carousell is looking to take a deeper bite of the region's property market as it doubles down on high-value transactions.

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