James Packer's renewed interest in the tech space has netted local online deal pioneers Gabby and Hezi Leibovich A$80 million for their Catch of the Day and group buying offshoot Scoopon sites.
With his old OneTel* wounds apparently healing, Packer's Consolidated Press Holdings joins Seek co-founder Andrew Bassat, New York based hedge fund Tiger Global, and Gannet Capital co-founder Glenn Poswell to take 40 per cent of the Liebovich operations.
The funding values the company at A$200m and is one of the biggest e-commerce deals in recent antipodean tech history.
The deal also beats the acquisition price of rival Spreets, which was picked up by Yahoo!7 in January for $40m.
Catch of the Day, daily online bargains, was one of the earliest online deal sites to emerge in the Australian market, launching five years ago with five employees and a 200 square metre warehouse. They moved into group buying with Scoopon.com.au in 2010.
The Leibovich brothers will retain a controlling stake in the group businesses, with Lee Fixel from Tiger Global and Jason Lenga from Seek joining the board.
Packer said he was attracted to the Leibovich’s assets because “unlike many other players in the market, the team’s proven experience in building profitable e-commerce businesses, means they have the skills, supplier networks and economies of scale to keep growing and leading the market.”
The Leibovichs will use the money to increase head count, invest in technology platforms with an emphasis on mobile apps and expand the businesses with hyper local deals and international plans.
“It is still early days in Australia when it comes to online retail and to support our next phase of growth we were open to overseas investors who could share a different perspective into the online retail market, as well as bring new skills, advice and contacts to further our growth and expansion,” they said.
OneTel, originally founded in Australia, attracted investment from the late Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch, with the two moguls setting their sons, James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch, to watch over their dollars. Its spectacular failure was Australia's highest-profile collapse in the first dotcom crash. ®