Hot matchmaker Scout24 rejects €4.7 billion offer, raising hopes of higher US bid

The listed online classifieds company that put itself up for sale last month may end up back with its previous owners, US private equity firms Blackstone and Hellman & Friedman.
Quelle: PR
Almost as high as Scout24's market value.
(Source: PR)

Shares of German online classifieds company Scout24 jumped as much as 6.9 percent on Monday after the company said it had rejected a €4.7 billion ($5.3 billion) approach by US financial investors, raising hopes of a higher bid.

The stock gained as much as €2.76 to €42.90 in morning trading after the company said in a regulatory release late Friday that it had turned down a joint offer from Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone at €43.50 per share – a 10.8 percent premium to the stock’s Thursday close, the day before the offer went public.

Scout24 runs immobilenscout24, Germany’s largest real estate portal, as well as AutoScout24, a sister automotive site, which also operates in Austria, the Netherlands and Spain.

You can never go home again

The two financial investors previously owned Scout24, having purchased a 70 percent stake from Deutsche Telekom in 2014 in a deal that valued the company at €2 billion. The pair sold off non-German units and added on other classified sites before listing the company in 2015.

In December, Scout24 hired Morgan Stanley reportedly to help the company rebuff offers from private equity shops including Silver Lake, the US technology specialist. But the defense mandate turned into a sale process and analysts on Monday said Scout24 was right to hold out for a bigger offer.

The company, which got a new CEO three weeks ago, may be hoping for a rich backer to help it continue adding on complementary websites. In July it paid €285 million for finanzcheck.de, an insurance and financial products comparison website. New CEO Tobias Hartmann, a former manager of meal-kit provider HelloFresh, wants Scout24 to expand internationally.

In the third quarter, revenue at Scout24 rose 13.6 percent over the same quarter a year earlier to €134.6 million, resulting in ebitda of €64.9 million, a 9 percent increase. The company, whose finance boss will leave in September, has yet to release fourth-quarter results.  

Last Friday’s offer represents a 20.5 percent bonus to the stock’s close on December 13, when the company effectively put itself on sale.

Andrew Bulkeley is an editor in Berlin for Handelsblatt Today. To contact the author: [email protected]