Summary:

Mail Online operator A&N Media is pulling a bold and unexpected move that has finally placed it ahead of market-leading Rightmove.

Zoopla's Alex Chesterman and Simon Kain

Mail Online operator A&N Media is pulling a bold and unexpected move that has finally placed it ahead of market-leading Rightmove.

It is merging its Digital Property Group, which contains FindaProperty.com and Primelocation.com, with independently-owned Zoopa. A&N will own 55 percent of the new-look group.

“In a market that has had a single dominant player in Rightmove for many years, this will create a viable and effective alternative for estate agents and housebuilders across the UK,” DMGT’s announcement says.

“For consumers, the combination will provide significantly greater coverage of property listings and enhanced features to help make better-informed decisions in the UK residential property market.”

Newspapers have been disintermediated by dedicated websites as classified advertising powerhouses in recent years. But the likes of DMGT and Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) have, over the years, bought up several jobs, cars, dating and homes classifieds websites to try retaining their position.

Chasing Rightmove, Zoopla had only just raised a further £1.75 ($2.75) million from its venture backers Atlas and Octopus and £1.5 ($2.35) million in debt from Silicon Valley Bank in December 2010 to fund marketing it hoped would push it ahead, saying: “We will continue to invest whatever it takes to build Zoopla into a household name.”

This is the latest consolidation in the space. Along the way, Zoopla has acquired OnOneMap.com, DotHomes.com, Extate.com and the PropertyFinder Group.

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