News Corp CEO vows to turbocharge

Promise to make website "most popular and profitable property site"

News Corp (NWS) is now the owner of Move (MOVE), which operates for the National Association of Realtors, as the companies completed the previously announced acquisition on Friday.

When the deal was announced, the companies said that News Corp would acquire all of Move’s outstanding shares for $21 per share, a price that represented a premium of 37% over Move’s closing stock price on September 29. The originally projected cost of the acquisition was $950 million.

According to a joint release from Move and News Corp, a total of approximately 34,299,586 shares were validly tendered into and not withdrawn from the tender offer, which represents 83.1% of Move’s outstanding shares.

News Corp will now pay the previously agreed to $21 per share for the shares included in the tender offer.

The companies also said that as a result of the merger, all eligible Move shares not tendered into the tender offer were cancelled and converted into the right to receive $21 per share in cash, without interest and less any applicable withholding taxes, the same price per share offered in the tender offer.

As a result of the acquisition, Move shares were removed from and will no longer be traded on the NASDAQ Stock Market.

“In partnership with the National Association of Realtors and its one million members, we look forward to turbo-charging and making it the most popular and profitable property site in America,” said Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp.

Thomson also said that the acquisition of Move “extends News Corp’s operations globally and digitally, and substantially bolsters the real estate pillar of its business.”

In an exclusive interview with HousingWire last month, Move CEO Steve Berkowitz said Berkowitz said that the News Corp deal presents the “synergies as a multiplier” effect, because Move and News Corp’s audiences are similar but don’t overlap, unlike its competitors.

“Their (Zillow and Trulia) two audiences are really the same audience,” Berkowitz said. “Our audience is very transaction-ready compared to our competitors. This is an audience that News Corp would love to have access to. Plus we get access to the News Corp audience. Our two companies coming together represent an opportunity for growth.”

At the time, Berkowitz said that some of the specifics of how the deal will manifest itself are still to be worked out, but anticipates that Move’s listings will be seen throughout the News Corp network of media platforms.

“We’re going to be looking at the best ways to bring their content to our customers and vice versa,” Berkowitz said.

“This deal is transformational for Move. We now have the backing of a major corporation that’s a media company, not a transaction-focused company. This is really important for Realtors as well. The integration benefits the entire industry.”

Berkowitz said that while the operational component hasn’t been fully worked out yet, he anticipates Move to continue to run as it did before the News Corp acquisition.

“We’ll continue to deal with the content and manage it appropriately,” Berkowitz said. “The Wall St. Journal still runs itself. Harper Collins still runs itself. They’re going to focus on letting us do what we know how to do, which is build an industry platform.”

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.

Earlier this week, the Zillow-Trulia deal was delayed after the Federal Trade Commission requested more information from the companies about the specifics of the deal.

According to an 8-K filed by Zillow with the Securities and Exchange Commission, when Zillow and Trulia received the second request for information, the two companies entered into an agreement with the FTC that they would not complete the merger prior to 60 days after both Zillow and Trulia “substantially comply” with the second request for information.

Zillow’s 8-K goes on to say that on Nov. 10, Zillow entered into an amended agreement with the FTC not to consummate the merger prior to 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Feb. 1, 2015.

In his interview with HousingWire, Berkowitz said the timing of the Zillow-Trulia deal was going to be a positive for Move and News Corp.

“The ambiguity and timing of the Zillow/Trulia deal is an opportunity for us,” Berkowitz said. “Our competitors promised cost savings in 2016. I can promise that you will see the impact of (the Move deal) in 2015.

“I think you’ll see us look for ways to get off the ground running. We’ll take this runway we have and focus on building our constituencies.”

When the deal was initially announced, News Corp said REA Group Limited, which is 61.6% owned by News Corp. and operates in Australia, will hold a 20% stake in Move once the acquisition is completed.

The companies now expect that transaction to be completed on November 17, 2014.

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