CoreLogic in bid for RP Data

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By Florence Chong and Damon Kitney

US data provider CoreLogic aims to dramatically expand its international footprint.

This, after launching a $194 million takeover offer for the shares it doesn’t already own in local real estate information services company, RP Data.

CoreLogic is offering $1.65 per share plus a 5c per share dividend from RP Data.

CoreLogic, listed on the New York Stock Exchange last year, will also assume RP Data’s $45m of bank debt.

CoreLogic has been a foundation shareholder of the Australian company since it was floated in 2006. It currently has a 40.2 per cent stake in RP Data and a 20-year strategic alliance agreement with the group.

RP Data is a leading information company serving more than 10,000 clients, including real estate agents, valuers and financial institutions in Australasia.

Its chairman, Ian Fraser, said CoreLogic made the offer late last year following weeks of intensive negotiations with independent directors including former Telstra executive Ted Pretty.

The directors have recommended the bid in the absence of a higher offer.

“It wasn’t simply about the premium on the trading price. They had to look at the fundamentals and the growth options of the business,” said Mr Pretty, who was the public company’s inaugural chairman.

“In the property analytics space, this is changing the whole business model of an industry and it is all online.” Mr Pretty still holds a small stake in RP Data, as do a range of other private investors including Australian Securities Exchange director Russell Aboud.

Mr Fraser said investors had indicated yesterday that they would support the bid.

He said RP Data chief executive Graham Mirabito and his team would play an important role in CoreLogic’s expansion of its business in Australia and New Zealand.

Core Logic’s president and chief executive Anand Nallathambi said: “The Asia-Pacific region represents an attractive long-term growth opportunity for CoreLogic and we believe the RP Data acquisition is an integral part of that growth strategy.”

Analysts and investors described the offer as “inevitable” and said a counter-bid was unlikely, a view reflected in trading in RP Data shares yesterday.

They rose 52 per cent to close just below the offer price at $1.64 in heavy trading.

Mr Fraser said the offer price represented a 68 per cent premium to the one-month volume-weighted price.

However, he said the directors would seek an independent expert’s opinion and the report would be included in the explanatory memorandum on the proposed scheme of arrangement to be sent to shareholders in mid-March.

Stephen Wood, portfolio manager at UBS Global Asset Management said: “We own shares in the company because we like it. We think it has a unique and difficult-to-replace database on Australian residential and commercial property.”

The firm’s Australian small companies fund has a 6.5 per cent stake in RP Data.

“You would have to say with respect to where the development of the business is, (the offer) represents reasonable value,” Mr Wood said.

John Lobb, portfolio manager with Orion Asset Management, another significant shareholder, said: “Given that CoreLogic already has a cornerstone stake, I’m not surprised that it would make a bid at some point.”

Mr Lobb said that RP Data had performed about 15 per cent better than the sharemarket index since listing.

Source: www.theaustralian.com.au