Just Dial, the local classifieds company, said it “does meet relevant corporates for exploring any business or strategic opportunities and tie-ups”, but there is no proposal to be acquired by Google “as of now”.
The statement came in response to a report in the Business Standard daily that said Google has started talks with Just Dial to acquire its business.
The phrasing of the statement seems to confirm that talks are on, but no agreement has been reached yet.
“Google has been talking to Just Dial for an acquisition for some time. Both the companies entered into exclusive talks about two months ago,” Business Standard’s Abhineet Kumar reported quoting an unnamed investment banker.
The news sent Just Dial shares — which have been putting up a lackluster performance for several quarters — up 20% today. The shares are up only 6% now, after the company said that no concrete proposal is in existence.
Just Dial, which traces its routes to a very successful private directory inquiry service over two decades ago, has found the going tougher in the era of online classifieds.
The company used to be the unquestioned leader in the days when people used to dial a number to find the nearest saree shop or TV technician.
However, with Internet available on most phones in India now, people increasingly rely on apps and Google search to get such information now.
Just Dial too has tried to transition to the online medium with its website and an app.
However, the online classifieds market is dominated by two start-ups, Quikr and OLX, which have spent millions of dollars on television and print campaigns to promote their service.
Google, on its part, has been trying to use its dominance in search and navigation to get a big chunk of the online classifieds market.
The company has been reasonably successful in getting local businesses to list on its maps product, which is the largest used navigational app in India.
An acquisition of Just Dial will help Google get a huge database of small businesses in India that can be incorporated into its Maps app.
Justdial was founded by Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, VSS Mani with 6 employees, rented computers and borrowed furniture in a hired garage space.
The idea was conceived when Mani was working for United Database India (UDI), a yellow pages company in the year 1987.
The founder is feted as one of India’s most successful first-generation entrepreneurs.