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By Alexander Hübner
Scout24 is interested in acquiring certain parts of Ebay's classifieds business, Chief Executive Tobias Hartmann said, adding that he was interested in Ebay's car and real estate classifieds operations.
"We are operating in a market where acquisition opportunities are rare. But we will focus on markets and countries where we already have a presence," Hartmann told Reuters.
Under pressure from activist investor Elliott, Ebay is exploring shedding some assets and is working with Goldman Sachs as its advisor, people familiar with the matter said, but no process has formally kicked off.
"We don't know if, when and how a sales process on Ebay will get going at all," Hartmann said, adding that Scout24 would only be interested in car and real estate classifieds businesses.
In Germany, Ebay owns mobile.de, the market leader in auto classifieds, while Scout24's AutoScout unit is the number one in Europe as a whole.
Commenting on buyout groups Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone's bid to acquire Scout24, Hartmann said that its failure earlier this month was testimony to investors' confidence in the group's growth potential.
"Our sales have accelerated more strongly (in the first quarter) than at any time in the last seven years," he said, adding that investors expected more going forward.
There are no plans to split the group along its two main product lines, he said, adding that the company was flexible to adapt its strategy to changing conditions if necessary.
Scout24's share register is full of short-term oriented hedge funds, who own roughly half of the stock, according to people familiar with the matter. Elliott owns about 6 percent of Scout24's shares.
Goldman Sachs declined to comment. (Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Thomas Escritt)