August 11, 2016 — Following its June acquisition of the Australian-based Dealer Solutions, Cox Automotive will acquire News Corp’s 50% stake in CarsGuide, an online automotive classifieds site, also in Australia.
Once the acquisition closes sometime in the fourth quarter, Cox will combine CarsGuide with Dealer Solutions and Manheim’s Australian division which includes its buying service SellMyCar into its new Cox Automotive Australia venture announced earlier this week. The acquisition is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.
CarsGuide was formed five years ago as a joint venture between Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and 35 dealer groups representing more than 700 rooftops to create a competitor to CarSales, Australia’s leading online automotive classifieds site. Other players in the nearly $1.5 billion online classifieds market include eBay’s Gumtree and Trading Post.
CarsGuide relaunched in 2014 after failing to make much of a dent in CarSales’ dominance. Since then, CarsGuide has nearly doubled its audience hitting one million unique visitors earlier this year.
Meanwhile, News Corp plans to stay in the automotive space using the ad tech platform Unruly that it acquired in September 2015 to create a network across all of its multi-channel media outlets. It’s a similar strategy News Corp used in the real estate market recently that proved to be successful.
Cox, could prove to be a much tougher competitor for CarSales than News Corp was, though. Along with years of expertise in the automotive space in the U.S., Cox Automotive is part of the $18 billion a year Cox Enterprises, so resources will not be lacking.