The REA Group, which owns top Australian real estate Web site realestate.com.au, has partnered with News Corp.’s SKY Italia to acquire 90 percent of Italy’s largest real estate site, Casa.it, for 9.6 million euro. (1 usd = .78 euro)

Founded in 1996, Casa.it has operations in Treviso, Northern Italy, and call center operations in Bucharest, Romania. The site is considered Italy’s largest real estate site with more than 2,800 agent subscribers and 130,000 homes advertised for sale or for rent.

Following the transaction, Realestate.com.au Ltd. will own 59.4 percent; SKY Italia, the Italian pay TV operator, will own 30.6 percent; and Casa.it’s founder and current CEO will retain 10 percent, the company said.

Simon Baker, chief executive officer of Realestate.com.au, said, “Casa.it is profitable and the market leader in a country with 60 million people, around 20,000 estate agent offices, high rates of home ownership, and strong broadband penetration.”

Baker said the company plans to rapidly grow Casa.it’s business. “We believe that Italy is an emerging country for online real estate advertising and Casa.it is best placed to capture much of the growth in the market,” he said.

Casa.it will become part of The REA Group, and its founder will remain as CEO of Casa.it.

The REA Group, which operates seven major real estate sites in Australia, New Zealand, Italy and the United Kingdom, has about 15,000 agent subscribers who pay to advertise their properties on the sites. The company continues to look into new markets for expansion, Baker said, with its key areas of interest in North America, Western Europe and Asia.

The Australian Realestate.com.au is the company’s top site, with more than 90 percent of agents in Australia using the service to advertise homes, Baker said.

Real estate is becoming more global, the chief executive said, and the company believes there’s value in having one online platform to facilitate buyers looking to cross borders.

Other Web sites operated by The REA Group include Realcommercial.com.au and Propertylook.com.au in Australia, Propertyfinder.com in the United Kingdom, and Allrealestate.co.nz and Propertylook.co.nz in New Zealand.

The company is 58 percent owned by News Corp.

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