BERLIN (Reuters) - German online classifieds company Scout24 AG (G24n.DE) has rejected a 4.7 billion euro ($5.34 billion) takeover offer from private equity firms Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone (BX.N), potentially paving the way for a bidding war.
The company said in a statement late on Friday that Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone had submitted a joint bid to Scout 24’s shareholders of 43.50 euros per share - eight percent higher than Friday’s closing share price of 40.14 euros.
“The management board of Scout24 AG has rejected the proposed offer price as inadequate,” the company said.
Speculation about a takeover of Scout24, which was previously owned by Hellman & Friedman, has been rife since December when the Financial Times reported the company was exploring a sale and that private equity firms were looking at bidding for the company.
The paper said U.S. technology-focused buyout firm Silver Lake was expected to be among the bidders looking to acquire Scout24.
Silver Lake last year bought Britain’s ZPG, operator of the online property portals Zoopla and PrimeLocation, for 2.2 billion pounds ($2.83 billion). Along with rival and market leader Rightmove, ZPG dominates the UK market.
Scout24 is best known for its ImmobilienScout24 home listings in Germany and AutoScout24 listings across Europe. Hellman & Friedman acquired a controlling stake from Germany’s Deutsche Telekom in 2013, before listing the business in 2015.
Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Jan Harvey