March 28, 2019 / 9:00 AM / 7 months ago

Private equity launches tender for Scout24, eyes sector deals

FRANKFURT, March 28 (Reuters) - Private equity houses Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone launched a tender to buy Scout24 on Thursday, saying they supported acquisitions by the German cars-to-property classifieds group to expand the business.

The bidders are offering 46 euros per share in cash in the takeover that won the board’s approval, a premium of 27 percent to the unaffected share price that values Scout24 at 5.7 billion euros ($6.4 billion) including debt.

“As strategic partners, Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone intend to support Scout24’s management team in fostering organic and inorganic growth,” the private equity firms said.

“This can be achieved by making investments in existing platforms and product development to overcome regulatory challenges and to succeed in an increasingly dynamic competitive landscape,” they said in a statement.

Scout24, previously backed by private equity before its listing, could serve as a vehicle for consolidation in Europe’s fragmented but fast-growing online classifieds sector, which is outperforming digital media.

The company’s management has expressed interest in parts of the digital classifieds business of eBay, the U.S.-based online marketplace that is under pressure from activist investors to divest assets to realise shareholder value.

This includes eBay’s German used-car portal, Scout24 management has said, although the feasibility of any deal would depend on how broadly the antitrust regulator defines the market following the entry of new players.

Completion of the offer is subject to a minimum acceptance threshold of 50 percent plus one share. The tender runs to May 9. ($1 = 0.8889 euros) (Reporting by Douglas Busvine Editing by Edmund Blair)

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