News Corp will buy Move for $950 million may soon belong to Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (NWS) has agreed to purchase Move (MOVE), which operates for the National Association of Realtors, for $950 million in cash.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, which was announced on Tuesday, News Corp will acquire all of Move’s outstanding shares for $21 per share. According to a release from News Corp, that price represents a premium of 37% over Move’s closing stock price on September 29.

As of 10:23 a.m. EDT, Move’s stock was trading at $20.93 per share, which is up nearly 27% for the day thus far. The stock closed on Monday at $15.29.

News Corp. said that as part of the deal, REA Group Limited, which is 61.6% owned by News Corp. and operates in Australia, will hold a 20% stake in Move.

The remaining 80% will be held by News Corp.

REA’s share will be acquired for approximately $200 million, News Corp said. News Corp also said that it intends to commence a tender offer for all of the shares of common stock of Move within 10 business days, followed by a merger to acquire any untendered shares.

"This acquisition will accelerate News Corp's digital and global expansion and contribute to the transformation of our company, making online real estate a powerful pillar of our portfolio,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp.

“We intend to use our media platforms and compelling content to turbo-charge traffic growth and create the most successful real estate website in the US,” Thomson added. “We are building on our existing real estate expertise and expect to leverage the potential of Move and its valuable connections with Realtors and consumers around the country."

The move comes on the heels of the highly publicized announcement that Zillow (Z) will acquire Trulia (TRLA) for $3.5 billion in a stock-for-stock transaction. Both stocks slipped in early trading on the news of the acquistion.

The announcement was met with positive reviews from most mainstream Wall Street analysts, but other activist investors criticized the deal, including firebomb critique leveled at the deal by Andrew Left, the contrarian analyst who runs the Citron Report

Also among the detractors was the National Association of Realtors, who reportedly asked the Federal Trade Commission to block the $3.5 billion merger, according to a recent report from the New York Post.

According to a source in the NYP, “People are grumbling about the merger. They are arguing there are only three” so there should not be further consolidation.

Per the acquisition agreement, Zillow and Trulia will remain two separate entities, though real estate agents will be able to advertise on both sites and gain access to combined tech efforts.

The issues between (and by extension Move and NAR), Zillow and Trulia run deep. In March, Move and NAR filed a lawsuit against Zillow and Errol Samuelson, chief industry development officer for Zillow, in a Washington state superior court, alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of trade secrets.

The lawsuit alleged that Samuelson’s vast knowledge of Move's trade secrets and strategies will make it impossible to function in his new job at Zillow without divulging those secrets.

In July, Washington State Superior Court Judge Barbara Linde issued a preliminary injunction in the case, finding that Samuelson misappropriated trade secret information by acquiring it using improper means, and by copying it without authorization.

Now, assuming the deal goes through as planned, Move and will be under the massive News Corp umbrella.

“News Corp’s acquisition of Move speaks powerfully to the quality and value of our content, audience and industry relationships,” said Steve Berkowitz, Chief Executive Officer of Move.

“We provide people with the information, tools and professional expertise they need to make the best and most informed real estate decisions, and we work to uphold the indispensable role of the professional in the real estate experience,” Berkowitz added. “News Corp shares our vision, which is one of the many reasons this combination is such good news for our customers, consumers and the industry as a whole.”

NAR President Steve Brown hailed the deal, saying that the partnership will help shape the future of real estate. “News Corp’s ability to reach and engage consumers, combined with’s quality content and the real insights Realtors provide will transform the current landscape,” Brown said. “Working together, Realtors, Move and News Corp will truly make home happen.”

The companies expect some of the “key benefits” of the deal to include:

  • Broadened reach for Move through News Corp’s robust platform including WSJ Digital Network (approximately 500 million average monthly page views) and News America Marketing (nearly 74 million households)
  • Increased sales and marketing support to drive higher brand awareness and traffic
  • Cross-platform promotion and audience monetization expertise
  • Leverage of News Corp’s and REA’s real estate and digital expertise to drive improved product innovation, consumer engagement and audience growth
  • Boost traffic and digital dwell times with high quality News Corp content

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