GA, Apax in Chinese real estate deal

The firms will acquire minority stakes in NYSE-listed SouFun, China’s largest online real estate company.

General Atlantic will acquire a 19 percent ownership stake in SouFun, China’s largest online real estate advertising and listing company, for $163 million.

The firm is partnering with London-based Apax Partners, which will invest an equal amount on the same terms.

Founded in 1999, SouFun became an NYSE-listed company on 17 September, and was sold to Apax and General Atlantic at its IPO price by telecommunications and information services company Telstra.

“We are attracted by the large Chinese market, the ecommerce play in real estate and the strength of [SouFun’s] management team,” General Atlantic managing director Anton Levy told PEO. “SouFun is a high growth company with lots of opportunity for continued expansion.”

Levy added that General Atlantic is currently pursuing additional potential investments and will continue to do so through the end of 2010.

General Atlantic has been an active investor in China since 2000, investing in companies such as Alibaba Group, a collection of internet-based businesses; Hong-Kong listed auto dealership group ZhongSheng and NYSE-listed research and development company WuXi AppTec.

Last month, General Atlantic invested an undisclosed sum in South Carolina-based online marketing firm Red Ventures for a minority stake in the company.

In addition to the media and consumer sector, General Atlantic invests in sectors such as healthcare; energy and resources, business services technology and financial services. The firm has $15 billion in assets under management and invests roughly $2 billion per year globally.