Optus' parent, SingTel, told the ASX that the valuation had been arrived at "based on, inter alia, an assessment of Eatability's assets and business prospects...As at 31 December the unaudited net asset value of Eatability was approximately $70,000."
Optus' foray into the restaurant-related web site market follows Telstra's rather more tentative approach: its Application Ventures subsidiary has undertaken what The Australian described as "the multi-million-dollar bankrolling of fledgling real-time online restaurant reservations group Dimmi, in partnership with movie powerhouse Village Roadshow." However the value of the investment was not disclosed.
Eatability was launched in 2003 by husband and wife team Celeste and Hui Ong. According to Optus it has grown to become one of Australia's leading restaurant directory and review websites with more than 235,000 restaurant reviews and 37,000 restaurant listings.
Austin R Bryan, vice president, communities & eco-systems in Optus' Digital L!fe (sic) Group, said that Eatability was already a key Optus partner, providing content for the Optus Go Places mobile app. He said that Optus would be "working with Celeste, Hui and the team to bring even greater functionality to Eatability users."
Go Places, launched in October 2011, gives customers electronic vouchers for a 20 percent discount at restaurants that are part of 'Frequent Values by Entertainment' scheme. These vouchers are redeemable simply by flashing the voucher displayed on a mobile device, via the Go Places app, prior to requesting the bill. The discount can be obtained multiple times at the participating restaurants.
In addition to restaurant listings, reviews and ratings from Eatability the app enables bookings to be made (via Dimmi) and provides travel directions including turn-by-turn navigation. The product is based on the Mobile Location Companion developed by UK company Telmap.
Subject to the Eatability acquisition being approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board, Eatability will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Optus. The move follows the SingTel Group's recent acquisition of Singapore's leading food portal, HungryGoWhere, and, according to Optus "forms part of the SingTel Group's strategy to build a stable of local digital services across the region."
Mr Loo Cheng Chuan, head, Local L!fe, in SingTel's Group Digital L!fe said: "We will be taking [Eatability] to the next level by extending it to smartphones, making it personalised and contextually relevant, as well as introducing an element of magic and serendipity into the customer experience."
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