BT (NYSE: BT) is making a somewhat late play in the online classifieds space, buying classifieds website operator Ufindus for £20 million in cash. The telco lost its monopoly over 192 directory inquiries when Oftel deregulated the market in 2000, leaving a gamut of new brands to combine new online and phone listings. Its Lancaster-based BT Directories division recently launched BT Exchanges, a hard-to-find consumer-facing business listings service, and Ufindus “will play an important role in the continued development of (the division’s) online portfolio”.
Ufindus, also based in Lancaster, claims more than 1.9 million classified listings from 200,000 customers for its main SmileLocal, MoreUK and Ufindus search sites plus its trade verticals like BuilderRegister and BathroomSpecialistFinder. In the same space, Yell’s share price is suffering from reduced demand in its Yellow Pages print business; news publishers, too, have snapped up several online classifieds sites in recent years to follow the small ads on to the net.