House site Funda is worth a lot of money. Brokers who once invested money in it can benefit now that they can sell their shares. An American investor becomes co-owner.
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Individual brokers who invested money in setting up Funda at the time can finally cash in on their share in that website. The American investment company General Atlantic has approximately 100 million euros left for their shares. The association of real estate agents NVM, long-time major shareholder of Funda, was obstructive for a long time, but now agrees to the sale. If this goes ahead, it will earn some real estate agents hundreds of thousands in one fell swoop.
This is how a long-running conflict is resolved. Funda was set up in 2001 by the NVM, with itself as the major shareholder and also support from individual brokers. They could buy so-called certificates, a type of shares that do not provide voting rights, but do provide an annual profit distribution. There are approximately 2,200 of these certificate holders, approximately 600 of whom have a substantial number. They were only allowed to trade these certificates among themselves, but not to market them.
Funda was a great success from the start, and that attracted the attention of investors. As early as 2017, General Atlantic registered with major shareholder NVM. That investment company estimated the value of Funda at 240 million euros and wanted to buy 25 to 35 percent of the shares, but the NVM rejected the request. Just like other investors who later turned to the NVM.
The NVM kept the door closed
To the increasing annoyance of the certificate holders, who saw the opportunity to earn a lot of money from their certificates go up in smoke. And to the annoyance of Funda itself. They wanted to use the large money from a new shareholder to continue to grow, for example by offering mortgage advice themselves. But the NVM did not want to lose its grip on Funda and kept the door closed.
The conflict heated up. Funda’s entire supervisory board has already resigned, and the CEO later also left, frustrated that his growth plans could not continue. The NVM’s offer to take over the certificates themselves for about ten euros each even increased the anger: far too little according to the certificate holders. Some of them eventually even went to the Enterprise Chamber with the accusation that the NVM was conducting ‘mismanagement’.
That matter can now be taken off the table. General Atlantic wants to buy all one and a half million certificates and is offering around 65 euros each for them. If all certificate holders agree to that offer, the investor will acquire an interest of almost 30 percent in Funda. If too many certificate holders refuse and General Atlantic remains below 18 percent, the deal will not go through.
Profit for all involved
The parties involved are satisfied. “Maybe some certificate holders expected more, but this is it,” says Marcel de Groot, chairman of the foundation that manages the certificates. The NVM first wanted to find out how digitalization is changing the brokerage profession and how Funda can best serve the interests of brokers, says a spokesperson, but now sees benefits for all involved.
Funda itself is also positive. General Atlantic also once invested money in Airbnb and foreign equivalents of Funda and therefore has a lot of experience with digitalization and real estate. Funda is counting on ‘a partner who supports our strategy’, says a spokesperson.