Sister sites Scoopon and Catch of the Day have declined to comment on a report that media and gambling tycoon James Packer is negotiating to take a stake in the two companies.
Both Scoopon and Catch of the Day were founded by Gabby and Hezi Leibovich, two brothers based in Melbourne. The pair achieved notoriety in Australia's online landscape when they became involved in a high-profile stoush with fellow "deal of the day" company Groupon, which is suing them for registering the "Groupon" trademark and domain name locally.
In a blog post at the time, Groupon chief executive Andrew Mason apologised for having taken so long to enter the local market (Groupon currently operates in 37 other countries) and publicly laid the problems at Scoopon's door.
"Scoopon went a little further than just starting their Groupon clone — they actually purchased the Groupon.com.au domain name, took the company name Groupon Pty Limited, and tried to register the Groupon trademark (filing for the trademark just seven days before us) in Australia," he wrote. "The way we see things, this is a classic case of domain squatting — an unfortunate reality of the internet business." The legal problems have forced Groupon to launch under the "Stardeals" brand in Australia.
In a report in this morning's Street Talk rumours section, the Australian Financial Review newspaper said that Catch of the Day currently brought in around $60 million in revenue per year. The paper said that Packer was in negotiations to take a 40 per cent stake in the two companies and that the offer would value the group at about $200 million.
A spokesperson for the Leibovich brothers declined to comment on what they described as "rumours and speculation".
The news comes as group buying space continues to heat up in Australia. Groupon itself announced a small, talent-based acquisition last week of a smaller comparable site, noting at the time that it now had about 100 staff in Australia. The company is hiring for more, and has noted that it wants to grow fast in Australia.
Spreets, one of the most high profile and financially successful local companies in the space, was bought by Yahoo!7 for about $40 million in late January. Over the past six months, a number of other comparable sites have sprung up in an attempt to mimic the international success of Groupon and similar multinational giants like Living Social.