Big news in the vacation rental sector with OYO Rooms flexing its acquisition muscles and buying @Leisure Group in a €360 million deal.
The acquisition marks the first big international investment by India-based OYO and puts it feet first in the Europe marketplace for private accommodation.
@Leisure Group has more than 30,000 fully managed rental properties across Europe, operating nine brands including Belvilla, DanCenter and Danland.
A subscription-based home management service under the Traum-Ferienwohnungen brand has 85,000 homes in 50 countries and is also part of the deal.
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The deal is in two parts, with German media and internet giant Axel Springer selling its 51% stake in the business for €180 million and the rest going to other shareholders. Axel Springer invested in @Leisure five years ago.
OYO says the deal marks a "massive opportunity" for it to capitalize on a $2 trillion market in private accommodation, with Europe accounting for somewhere in the region of 30% to 40% of it.
OYO took a $1 billion investment in September last year - a deal that it later emerged included participation from Airbnb.
Global chief strategy officer at OYO Maninder Gulati says: “With Europe spearheading the vacation and urban home rental trend globally, @Leisure Group is uniquely positioned to capitalize on its experience and insights aided with OYO’s full-stack approach towards building the world’s largest global vacation rentals business.
"If one were to look at Europe alone, there is an ever-increasing demand for vacation homes with an increasing trend of booking an entire home."
@Leisure's existing CEO, Tobias Wann, will become CEO for vacation homes at OYO Global.
He says: "@Leisure Group was started with a similar mission to identify and service all forms of vacation and urban home rentals, focusing on delivering a hassle-free experience to both homeowners and guests.
"I am delighted to share that we’ve successfully achieved that over the past few years, and now aspire to leverage our synergies to deepen our presence in Europe and look to expand globally."
The acquisition comes six months after @Leisure offloaded its Casamundo brand to German vacation rental metasearch service HomeToGo.
The sale included the EuroRelais brand, allowing @Leisure to focus on the remaining nine brands under its umbrella.
The European sector has seen a number of strategic moves in recent years as Airbnb and HomeAway have moved in with their strong brands and online presence.
Wimdu, founded in 2010, attracted attention in its early days with $90 million from investors including Kinnevik and Rocket Internet, touting itself as the "Airbnb For Europe."
After being merged with 9Flats, Wimdu was sold to Wyndham brand Novasol almost two years ago.
Wyndham then sold Novasol and its other European vacation rental businesses to Platinum Equity in February 2018 but closed in late 2018.
The OYO deal is expected to close in June 2019.
* Check this interview with OYO Rooms CEO Ritesh Agarwal at The Phocuswright Conference 2018.
Spotlight Interview: Billion Dollar Baby - OYO
Executive Interview: Airbnb
Jeroen Merchiers, managing director for EMEA at Airbnb, speaks at Phocuswright Europe 2019.