General Atlantic buys majority stake in Hemnet

18 Dec 2016

General Atlantic, the $20 billion American “growth equity” investment firm, is the new majority owner of Swedish property site Hemnet, previously owned by a consortium of real estate agencies in Sweden. The company was valued at about SEK 2 billion, or $214 million U.S.

General Atlantic has been active in classified advertising investments for a while. It has a stake in Fang, the Chinese real estate site; Axel Springer, the German parent of a large number of classified companies, and marketplaces like AirBnB and Uber.

A consortium with former Blocket boss Pierre Siri and former investment manager Henrik Persson took a substantial minority stake. Siri, Persson and Chris Caulkin, a Principal at General Atlantic, are joining the Hemnet board. The deal was announced Friday.

Two organizations for real estate agents, Mäklarsamfundet and Fastighetsmäklarförbundet, will also retain a minority stake in Hemnet. An acquisition deal for Hemnet by Schibsted fell through in July after it was blocked by the competition authorities. The site, launched in 1998, went on the block again in September.

The real estate chains Fastighetsbyrån, owned by Swedbank, and Svensk Fastighetsförmedling, sold all their shares, together 50 per cent of Hemnet.  Fastighetsmäklarförbundet will only keep 2 per cent.

“Our members have voted for a sale of part of our shareholding in Hemnet and many have expressed their satisfaction over the new buyer. We believe that we have taken a very good decision for all Hemnet’s visitors, the Swedish real estate agents and Hemnet’s future. We look forward to working with the new owners to continue developing the Swedish prime residential site,” said Erik Olsson, chairman of Fastighetsmäklarförbundet.

Some members of his organization are disputing the sale process, and have asked that a special examiner review it. The group will hold a special meeting Thursday to reconsider it.

Information about the price came from Swedbank, a listed company. Schibsted, which owns Blocket Bostad, the major competitor for Hemnet, had offered SEK 1.5 billion for its majority stake.

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Lars Herlin

Lars Herlin is an AIM Group senior analyst for Europe, and our expert on Schibsted. He had a long career in journalism at Expressen, Svenska Dagbladet and VeckansAffärer, and served as managing editor and later managing director of Gotlands Allehanda.