Sensis and Australia's Yellow Pages sold to US software company for $260m

Telstra offloads last 30% stake in Australian SMB marketing services provider

Australia’s SMB marketing services business and owner of the Yellow Pages and White Pages, Sensis, has been sold in a $260 million deal to US SMB software player, Thryv Holdings.

The deal comes seven years after Telstra sold a 70 per cent stake in the Sensis business to US private equity firm, Platinum Equity, for $425 million, and sees the remaining 30 per cent stake still owned by Telstra also picked up by Nasdaq-listed Thryv.

The total purchase price of $260 million in a far cry from the previous sale price, and saw Telstra note a $34 million impairment loss for the Sensis investment in its latest half-yearly financial report as well as a $95 million increase in associated liabilities.

Sensis is described as one of Australia’s oldest continuous operating businesses. The Melbourne-headquartered organisation has 200,000 customers across the small business market and provides SEO, SEM, social and display advertising and website development services. It has nearly 500 employees.

Under the latest deal, Sensis CEO John Allan, will remain in the job and report to Thryv CEO and president, Joe Walsh. Allan said joining forces with Thryv is just what the business needed.

Thryv already owns the Yellow Pages in the US and supplies software to small business for accepting appointments, building digital customer lists, emailing and texting customers, sending reminders and notifications, delivering estimates and invoices, contactless payments acceptance and generating online ratings and reviews.

“Our organisations share a similar heritage through our profitable Yellow and White Pages brands, which we will continue to develop,” Allan said. “Both organisations aim to be the primary partner of SMBs by helping them establish, grow and run their day-to-day business activities from their mobile phone.

“In recent years, we’ve seen many Australian businesses forced to invest more in IT platforms than actual employees. Thryv ends that fractured, costly, and complex approach.”

Allan highlighted the scale, knowledge and proven offerings Thryv software brings as key to helping Sensis find a differentiated position in the Australian SMB market.

“A greater take-up of technology is good for the Australian economy as a whole. In the end we both have the same ambition – to be the primary partner of small to medium-sized businesses - helping them to establish and grow,” he said.  

Walsh also the deal is a transformational acquisition for Thryv and will help Australian small business better compete in a digital economy. He added Thryv will work to better understand Australian SMB’s needs before rolling out its product nationally.

“While I’m sure there will be some differences in the Australian market, small business owners in both countries are no-doubt facing similar challenges—both are struggling to compete with national chains and increasingly-large and monopolistic tech titans who seek to dominate online,” Walsh commented.

The acquisition of Sensis is part of Thryv’s strategy to expand internationally where, Walsh said, “small businesses are ready to modernise operations in order to serve their customers faster and more efficiently – from anywhere, including mobile devices”.

“By introducing the Thryv software to the Australian market, we’re confident we can make an impact on Australian SMBs, the five million people they employ, and the consumers who rely on their small business success.”

Over the last seven years, Yellow has worked to shift from its traditional printed directories into a digitally focused business with its database of 200,000 small to medium sized businesses. It’s Google’s biggest customer in Australia and boasts of 6 million monthly searches via the Yellow.com.au platform.
 

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