Guardian newspaper set to sell property software business

Guardian newspaper set to sell property software business

The owners of the Guardian have hoisted a For Sale sign above their estate agency software business, GMG Property Services.

There is speculation that the business, which includes Vebra and Core, could sell to one of the property portals or to an existing software competitor.

An auction for the business, the biggest supplier of estate agency IT in the country, is scheduled for next month.

The disposal is intended to raise money for the Guardian and Observer titles, both of which have been struggling, burning through £63m last year. Despite such heavy losses, the Guardian Media Group still had cash of £226m, including a £100m dividend from its 50.1% stake in Trader Media Group, which publishes Autotrader.

In January this year, the newspaper group refused a £300m offer for its stake in Trader Media Group, of which ex-Rightmove boss Ed Williams is a non-executive director, apparently wanting more money for its most successful asset.

GMG Property Services is not in the same league, but has nevertheless continued to turn in a highly successful performance.

GMG Property Services had revenues of £9.6m in its last accounts, for the year to March 2012, turning in a profit of £1.4m. The business is valued at £14m by the Guardian Media Group itself.

GMG Property Services was formed in 2007. Vebra and its then stablemate Thinkproperty were bought by the Guardian a year earlier, originally as part of Trader Media, but were retained following the sale of 49.9% of the Guardian’s stake. Shortly after GMG Property Services was created, Core was acquired.

The acquisition meant that between them, Core and Vebra at that time had 22% share of the market, with 4,000 estate agency customers. The group also includes CFPwinman, for letting agents.

Thinkproperty was sold on by GMG Property Services, to be an early acquisition by Zoopla.

GMG Property Services has kept a low media profile of late, and does not appear to have kept its own website up to date: on its news section, the newest story is dated April of last year. The company has offices in Luton, Wolverhampton, and Redruth, Cornwall.

The business is headed by Mark Goddard, who was previously with Trader Media.