Localist sold to CEO, private investors in multi-million deal
"In most cases when you want to sell something you run a competitive process? In this case it seems very strange that nothing was heard until the deal was struck."Featured comment
UPDATE: RNZ reports Localist sold for "around $8 million." If correct, the figure represents a substantial loss for NZ Post, which wrote off $28 million over the four years it owned the service.
Localist CEO Christina Domecq - who led the private buyout - and NZ Post refused to comment on the price.
"There are no plans to reduce staff," the Localist spokesman said. The site employs 114 and "is actively hiring digital, business and sales experts."
A rep for Ms Domecq told NBR that RNZ's $8 million figure was wrong, but refused to say what the actual figure was for the taxpayer asset. It was "several million," he said.
In December, Ms Domecq told NBR that Localist is now profitable.
The service - which she made online-only after taking over in January 2013 - has listings for 33,000 businesses; 3000 of which are paid, she told NBR.
It was now able to make some progress paying back the money it owned to its parent, the CEO said.
Localist was set up in 2011 as a fully-owned but independently operating subsidiary of NZ Post, bankrolled by a $25.6 million internal loan.
Initially it had five print directories, each aimed at a different area of Auckland. It immediately faced competition from a rival Yellow Pages Group iniative, Yellow Local, in print and online (although never officially abandoned, most Yellow Local sites for various Auckland suburbs have not been updated since late 2012). Since May last year, Localist has also faced competition from the NZ version of Yelp - the US webite that Localist's original CEO, Blair Glubb, frequently cited as a role model.
Ms Domecq, who was raised in the US and UK and followed her Kiwi husband to NZ, is independently wealthy by dint of being a member of the family that founded a Spanish sherry dynasty and was part of Allied Domecq before its acquisition by Pernod Ricard in 2005.
Her other investments include in NZ include Stolen Rum, software development outfit Unlimited Realities and a Mexican food truck business, MexiKai.
EARLIER: New Zealand Post has sold its directory company Localist, which has around 100 staff, for an undisclosed sum.
The business was bought by a group led by chief executive Christina Domecq. Other members of the management buy out team include Rob Campbell (who was recently appointed chairman of Summerset group) and former Tegal chief executive Andrew Stevens.
The controversial American was hired in January 2012 to oversee a restructure that included the scrapping of Localist’s print directory business. Ms Domecq says in a release changes have resulted in 200% growth year on year as it has expanded into 10 regions nationwide.
New Zealand Post Group CEO Brian Roche said the sale is a good outcome for New Zealand Post, which is now strongly focused on core services.
Mr Roche said Localist had entered a new phase which was showing signs of progress.
“There have been encouraging signs of progress for Localist over the last 12 months and its new team is excited about its future direction.”
New Zealand Post will work with Localist over the next two months to ensure an orderly transition of the business.