INM is taking over one of Ireland's biggest car sales websites

The publisher previously paid €300,000 for half CarsIreland.ie.

By Paul O'Donoghue Reporter, Fora

INDEPENDENT NEWS AND Media will complete a takeover of car sales website CarsIreland.ie after earlier buying out half of the company.

The publisher, which counts billionaire Denis O’Brien as its largest shareholder, announced it now fully owned the website, which it described as “Ireland’s fastest-growing classified business”.

It previously took a one-third stake in the business in 2011, followed by another investment in 2012 that took its share up to 50%.

While the amount INM paid for the second half of the website wasn’t disclosed, company filings for the firm behind CarsIreland, named Digital Odyssey Limited, show that the publisher paid a total of €300,000 in cash over two deals for the first half of the firm.

The director’s report attached to the company’s most-recent accounts, for the year ending 26 December 2014, described the first deal as a “subscription and joint venture shareholders’ agreement”.

“Under this agreement, additional working capital and marketing support will be provided to the business,” it said.

CarsIreland was launched in 2004 and INM said the business had delivered “significant growth” in recent years. It has nearly 1,000 people advertising 40,000 vehicles for sale on the platform each month and claims that it works with more car dealers than any other car sales website in Ireland.

‘Synergies’

INM chief executive Robert Pitt said that there are “clear synergies” between the two companies due to the publisher’s existing motoring features.

“The site’s online dominance fits well with INM’s strategy for both its online and print titles,” he said.

Digital Odyssey’s 2014 accounts showed it made a net profit of €174 on turnover of around €666,000. Its annual revenue was up 43% on the previous year’s tally.

Meanwhile, INM has recently flagged its intent to buy up more assets in the Irish and UK media markets after paying down its debts and posting its first increase in revenue for eight years in 2015. 

The company, which suffered a collapse in its share price during the recession, got rid of most of its debt after selling its 19% stake in New Zealand-based APN News & Media for over €120 million last year. It also shut down its voucher business, GrabOne, last year with the expected loss of 24 jobs.

Its only purchase of note so far, aside from CarsIreland, is the acquisition of four magazine titles from Belfast-based Greer Publications.

INM acquired the business and trade titles Ulster Business, Ulster Grocer and Hospitality Review NI, as well as the consumer fashion and lifestyle title Northern Woman, for an undisclosed sum in February.

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