Zoopla’s purchase of estate agency software company Expert Agent is being reviewed by the Competition and Markets Authority.
The acquisition by ZPG – which already owns the Property Software Group – was announced on March 1.
Expert Agent is claimed to be the most widely used estate agency software in the industry, used by some 2,300 branches.
The PSG brands between them claim to have over 40,000 individual users in over 9,000 branches.
Zoopla acquired PSG almost a year ago, in April 2016, with PSG boss Mark Goddard becoming Zoopla’s head of estate agency services. PSG brands include Jupix, Alto, Vebra and Core, as well as MyPropertyFile and Moveit.
It is understood that the actual purchase of Expert Agent, announced less than a month ago and for an undisclosed amount, has been finalised.
However, this morning at 8am ZPG told the stock market of the CMA’s intervention.
This morning’s full RNS statement says:
“ZPG, owner of some of the UK’s most trusted home-related digital platforms including Zoopla, uSwitch, PrimeLocation, Hometrack and Property Software Group, announces that the Competition and Markets Authority (‘CMA’) is reviewing the Company’s acquisition of Websky Limited (‘Expert Agent’) and that, accordingly, the CMA has served an initial enforcement order under section 72(2) of the Enterprise Act 2002 (‘the order’).
“Having been informed of the review and the order, ZPG is now engaging in a consultation with the CMA and will make a further announcement in due course.”
Mike Griffiths, founder of Expert Agent, said last night that he was not in a position to comment when EYE put the rumours of the CMA intervention to him.
The CMA was also late yesterday afternoon unable to confirm its move, but which is now made clear. It said that it does make “hold separate” orders, which research suggests are issued to prevent integration.
Griffiths sold his independent company to private equity firm Metropolis International in 2013, meaning that he had no shares in the business which was not his to sell, but which he continues to run as managing director.
Shortly after the March 1 deal was announced, he said that the sale of Websky to ZPG came as a complete surprise to him.
However, he also said at the time that he was looking forward to working with ZPG, while admitting that a number of customer agents had given him a hard time over the sale.