Packer lifts stake in US property site

James Packer has upped his stake in the US real estate website Zillow, weeks after selling his holdings in the online employment site Seek and the investment fund Magellan.

James Packer has upped his stake in the US real estate website Zillow, weeks after selling his holdings in the online employment site Seek and the investment fund Magellan.

The billionaire's share of the Nasdaq-listed Zillow now stands at 9.3 per cent, up from 4.7 per cent. He raised $261 million last month by selling holdings in the online employment site and boutique funds group.

Cavalane Holdings bought about 3 million shares on behalf of Mr Packer's Consolidated Press International Holdings, the Seattle-based Zillow said in a filing in the US, without giving financial terms.

The stake is valued at $298 million based on Zillow's last closing price.

Cavalane, an investment vehicle controlled by Mr Packer, is Zillow's largest shareholder after the Australian funds management firm Caledonia Private Investments, which has a 16 per cent holding.

Caledonia, a boutique fund with more than $3 billion under management, has a history of using its clout in corporate transactions.

According to its website, Zillow runs the largest real estate advertising network in the US, in partnership with Yahoo!, real estate search engine Yahoo!Homes. As well as its real estate database, it offers mortgage and financial advice from in-house economists and specialists.

Mr Packer's purchase of a larger stake in Zillow comes amid a recovery in the US housing market. Zillow shares rose almost 3 per cent to $US99.09 on Tuesday.

The Crown chairman's decision to sell holdings in Seek and Magellan last month was expected to raise funds to pay down debt and make other investments.

His Seek holding represented a residual stake of 4 per cent of the company. Seek was founded by the Bassat brothers in 1997, and Mr Packer bought in in 2003. Investing $33 million for a 25 per cent stake, Mr Packer sold most of his stake six years later, making a profit of more than $440 million.

At its recent annual results, Seek said it was reaping the benefits of diversifying into education and international markets, after more than doubling profit in the face of a sluggish domestic jobs market.

Underscoring the pressure from the Australian economy, revenue from the domestic job listing business declined 5 per cent.

Mr Packer has built a reputation for being able to pick online winners.

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