PRC REALTY SYSTEMS, the multiple-listings services (MLS) provider owned by four major newspaper companies, will acquire Realtron Corp., a Pompano Beach, Fla.-based competitor, the companies announced.
The merger is subject to approval by Realtron shareholders, who likely will meet this month for a vote.
Both PRC and Realtron produce online multiple listing systems, products and services. Real estate brokers use the services to distribute information about residential properties for sale.
McLean, Va.-based PRC was acquired for $60 million in March by News Holdings Corp., an alliance formed by Tribune Co., Advance Publications, Knight-Ridder Inc. and Cox Newspapers Inc.
PRC and Realtron did not disclose the terms of the merger, but Robert Carr, a spokesman for News Holdings, said these are "considerably less" than the $60 million paid for PRC.
Realtron, with annual sales of about $24 million, serves more than 160 real estate associations located mainly in Florida, the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, the West and New England.
Operating as a single company, the merged firms will provide listings of real estate for sale to at least 360 real estate associations, representing more than 300,000 agents in the United States and Canada.
The four newspaper companies have an equal interest in the combined company, which will operate independently. Carr said News Holdings will be an "invisible" investor, furnishing the necessary capital to help PRC and Realtron collectively develop products and services.
"We are investing in Realtron and PRC, because we recognize their growth potential and we believe in their vision," said David Hiller, chairman of News Holdings. "The merged company will be independently run, and its leadership will continue to determine its strategy and market focus."
Both Realtron and PRC emphasized that the listings data in the systems will remain the property of the realtor boards.
"MLS data is owned by the real estate professionals in a given market area, and they will continue to control the use of their own data," said Ron Cooper, president and CEO of PRC.
"It is also important to note that our customers will be able to work with any media company, whether or not that media company is affiliated with one of the companies comprising News Holdings Corp.," he added.
Cooper will be CEO of the merged company. Realtron's president, James Sherry, will have a "leadership" role, according to the announcement.
"This agreement is a win-win situation for both our shareholders," Sherry said. "The majority of our shareholders are also Realtron employees, and they will benefit from being part of a larger company with greater financial resources."
By: Dorothy Giobbe PRC is owned by an alliance of newspaper firms, including Tribune, Knight-Ridder, Advance, Cox sp.