Scout24 AG, an operator of digital marketplaces specializing in the real estate and automotive sectors in Germany and other European countries, has received $5.5 billion from two US private equity firms. The extra capital will help Scout24 keep up competition with other digital marketplaces platforms, Axel Springer SE and Ebay Inc. within the European online classifieds industry.
The sweetened 46 euro-a-share bid from Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone Group LP -- which gives Scout24 an equity value of 4.9 billion euros -- will help the company better challenge rivals and grow across Europe, Scout24 Chief Executive Officer Tobias Hartmann said.
The offer reflects a "joint long-term vision and ambition to turn Scout24 into a leading European digital player,” Hartmann said in a statement. Scout24 will look at potential acquisitions in its core markets following the deal, a spokesman said by phone.
Scout24 has in recent years successfully expanded from real estate listings in Germany into a platform for online classifieds in sectors ranging from finance to cars across Europe. A real estate boom in Germany and the acquisition of financial news site Finanzcheck also helped the company boost sales.
Yet Germany’s traditional real estate market is under threat. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is trying to rein in spiraling housing costs, and is working on changes to realtor fees that could hurt Scout24’s business. EBay is offering free real estate listings on its German marketplace site EBay Kleinanzeigen, and if costs for sellers increase, the U.S. giant may lure more listings away from sites like Scout24 and Immowelt, the rival owned by Axel Springer.
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