Thursday, June 21, 2007

Zaio: Acquires Kirchmeyer's companies

Zaio Corporation (TSX-V: ZAO), a company working to develop a site-verified database of photos, valuations and property information, has announced that its Scottsdale, Arizona, subsidiary Zaio Inc. plans to acquire Kirchmeyer & Associates and Real Info Inc., both based in Buffalo, New York.

Kirchmeyer & Associates is the largest appraisal firm in New York State offering appraisal services throughout the United States and Real Info has a proven track record as one of the most comprehensive business-to-business real estate information and automated valuation providers in the industry today.

Jim Kirchmeyer, the founder of both of these businesses, has been a long-time participant in the real estate valuation business. He wrote the book on part of it when he published AVM 101. He is currently the chairman of REIPA's Collateral Valuation and Technology Committee (CATC).

Zaio will pay $3.0 million in cash and common shares valued at $2.5 million at closing. There is also a bonus of sorts that will be paid based on the profitability of the businesses during the 12 months following the sale.

Kirchmeyer has not divulged his future plans, but since he has a stake in the performance of the firm over the next year and he will take stock as part of his consideration in the deal, I suspect he will continue to run his companies at least for the short term.

Zaio has been criticized by the appraisal industry for its attempts to secure their property information and resell it. Dave Biggers, founder and owner of a la mode, told attendees of his company's recent annual convention that he does not endorse the company, even though it was an exhibitor at the event.

Zaio also exhibited at the 2007 Predictive Methods Conference hosted by Veros Software earlier this month. I recorded a podcast with company executives at that show that will appear on the PMC 2007 website.

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