Australian Community Media executive chairman Antony Catalano has renewed his attack on rival property website, the Nine-owned Domain.
Speaking to The Australian, Catalano (who once ran Domain when it was owned by Fairfax) revealed he had invested heavily in burgeoning property site, Realestateview.com.au, which would have a regional focus that matched with his Australian Community Media properties.
Catalano and billionaire business partner Alex Waislitz have invested $10 million into Realestateview.com.au, giving them a 26 per cent stake in the business.
“Domain is weak in all major cities except Sydney and Canberra, generating less than 20 per cent of all leads nationally,” Catalano told The Oz. “A new player in regional Australia and Realestateview’s support in the industry will present additional competition for Domain.”
Over the weekend, the Nine-owned Australian Financial Review revealed that Catalano had tried to hatch a plan alongside Seven West Media and News’ Realestate.com.au to “attack” Domain.
The plan, that ultimately never got off the ground due to acrimony between the parties, proposed a merger with News Corp’s regional portfolio, selling REA and his new property portal together, and having Seven as an equity shareholder in the new business to add promotion from metro TV.
Due to its failure, Catalano appears to have decided to go it alone and build his own Australia-wide property portfolio.
The AFR is reporting Catalano wants to bulk up Realestateview.com.au via acquisitions of businesses, including Tomorrow Agency, Media Plus and The Today Business, all three of which he has interests in. His Australian Community Media already includes some 170 publications across regional Australia.
However, Catalano revealed in his interview to the News-owned The Oz that he believed the News-owned Realestate.com.au would remain the dominant player in Australia’s property buying market.
“Realestate.com.au is a dominant national player that holds the number one position around the country. It also has the support of the national reach of News Corp, which will continue,” Catalano said.
“Ultimately, the opportunity arose last year and Realestateview.com.au is well established and has 1.7 million unique audience a month.
“It’s well supported by the industry and looks like a more sensible option, so we invested,” he said.