ALMA MEDIA CORP. PRESS RELEASE 7 JANUARY 2005
ALMA MEDIA ACQUIRES CITY24.EE, LARGEST INTERNET HOME AND PROPERTY MARKETPLACE IN ESTONIA
Alma Media has purchased the entire share capital of Kinnisvaraportaal AS, which maintains City24.ee, Estonia's leading Internet home selling service. The company has net sales of some EUR 300,000 and employs four people. The company was sold by the private equity company Intergate and three real estate companies, who set up the service in 2000. Alma Media is the market leader in Finland in Internet classified advertising services. Alma Media's services are Etuovi.com, Autotalli.com and Monster.fi in Finland, as well as Mascus.com which operates in several countries and Byttruck.com in Sweden.
City24.ee is Estonia's leading Internet home and property marketplace. City24.ee covers 70% of the housing on offer in Estonia and its service offers property from 200 real estate companies. More than 40,000 visitors use the service every week. The service functions not only in Estonian and Russian but also in Finnish and English.
"The purchase of City24.ee fits in perfectly with Alma Media's strategy. We are the market leader in Finland in our chosen sectors and the natural next step is expanding into neighbouring areas. Etuovi.com has got off to a good start in Finland and City24 provides an excellent opportunity for us to expand its business outside Finland. City24 has a multi-language service in use, including Russian, and has plans for expanding into Lithuania and Latvia," states Raimo Mäkelä, president of Alma Media Interactive Oy, which is responsible for Alma Media's Internet classified services.
Estonia's housing market has grown strongly in the past few years. Housing sales rose altogether 16% in 2003. During the first quarter of 2004 10,700 sales transactions were recorded and growth for the whole year is expected to be similar to the previous year. The average price of housing in 2003 was EEK 472,000 (EUR 30,100), an increase of 13% from 2002. Low interest rates have kept interest in home purchasing high. The number of home mortgages taken out increased 61% in 2003.
"City24 has established a strong position in property advertising on the Internet. Cooperation with Alma Media opens up new, interesting opportunities to expand the service offering via the Internet to mobile services and other media such as newspapers and television. Our customer-focused approach to developing information technology and our desire to copy the best of Alma Media's business concepts help us to offer our customers the leading services in the field in our existing and new market areas," says Marko Veerberk, Managing Director of Kinnisvaraportaal.
Alma Media Interactive Oy is the leading classified advertising specialist in Finland. Etuovi.com for homes, Autotalli.com for second-hand vehicles, Monster.fi for job recruitment and Mascus.com for used heavy-duty equipment and machines are all market leaders. The services reach a total of 800,000 visitors each month. Classified services had combined net sales in 2004 of EUR 13 million and employed altogether 62 people.