PropertyGuru to go public in merger with SPAC backed by Richard Li, Peter Thiel

(Reuters) - Southeast Asian online realty company PropertyGuru on Friday agreed to go public through a merger with a blank-check firm backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel, giving the combined company an equity value of about $1.78 billion.

The deal with Bridgetown 2 Holdings, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), is expected to fetch proceeds of $431 million, including a private investment of $100 million from Baillie Gifford, Naya, REA Group, Akaris Global Partners, and one of Malaysia’s largest asset managers.

Australia’s REA Group has also committed to an additional $32 million investment, PropertyGuru said.

The combined company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange once the deal is finalised, PropertyGuru said in a statement.

The transaction is a major development for PropertyGuru which had planned to list in Australia in October 2019 when it tried to raise about $A380 million.

A listing never happened though and the float was pulled, which the company attributed to uncertain market conditions at the time.

Founded in 2007, PropertyGuru hosts more than 2.8 million monthly real estate listings. It serves 37 million property seekers a month and 49,000 active property agents across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The company offers digital property marketplaces to match buyers and tenants with sellers and landlords, as well as digital marketing for property agents and developers.

“The market for property is probably the oldest market in the world, and only now is it beginning to change rapidly,” said Peter Thiel, president of Thiel Capital.

“As PropertyGuru spearheads that change in Southeast Asia, Bridgetown 2 will provide capital and expertise to accelerate it even further,” he said.

The combined company will have an enterprise value of about $1.35 billion. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021 or the first quarter of 2022.

Merrill Lynch (Singapore) Pte Ltd is serving as exclusive financial advisor to PropertyGuru on the deal.

Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, KKR Capital Markets and TPG Capital were the placement agents to Bridgetown 2.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; additional reporting Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong, Editing by Devika Syamnath, Robert Birsel