Scout24 AG, a leading operator of digital marketplaces specialising in the real estate and automotive sectors in Germany and other selected European countries, today announced its strategic roadmap to enhance long-term value creation for its shareholders.
The Management Board will focus on three key pillars: (i) strengthening of Scout24's two core verticals, (ii) top-line growth and operational efficiency enhancements, and (iii) capital allocation optimisation.
Tobias Hartmann, CEO of Scout24, stated: "We have demonstrated impressive growth over the past 5 years, underlined by our strong Q1 19 results. I am convinced that we can further unlock untapped potential in our two leading online classifieds platforms. My ambition is to make our core verticals ImmobilienScout24 and AutoScout24 the leading market networks and powerhouses in the respective geographies. This will be spurred by leveraging our data, technology and platform reach paired with our customer and consumer-centric approach."
Scout24 will host its Annual General Meeting in Munich on 30 August 2019. The Company will also host a Capital Markets Day in Q4 2019 to provide investors with a comprehensive update on its roadmap and initiatives to enhance long-term value creation for all shareholders.
i. Strengthening of Scout24's two core verticals
Scout24 intends to strengthen its two core verticals, ImmobilienScout24 ("IS24") and AutoScout24 ("AS24"), reflective of their distinct underlying markets and respective geographies. As a result, Scout24 is planning to integrate the relevant products and solutions of Consumer Services within each of IS24 and AS24. This would enable the reduction of organisational complexity and further drive accountability, whilst facilitating the Group's approach to extend the value chains of the two verticals. Key central functions (such as human resources, legal, finance, brand marketing) will remain in place at Scout24 group level and serve both verticals.
The streamlined set-up with only two core verticals will offer Scout24 greater flexibility to pursue strategic options as a key active player in a consolidating classifieds market environment and create additional value for all Scout24 shareholders whilst acting in the best interest of all stakeholders.
ii. Continued top-line growth combined with operational efficiency enhancement
The ongoing initiatives in transitioning to a fully networked marketplace emphasise the Management Board's confidence in Scout24 growth prospects beyond 2019. IS24 is the clear leader in German real estate classifieds, and AS24 is a leading European car classifieds platform. Scout24 will continue to leverage these strong foundations to better serve and monetise its customer and consumer base. Scout24 is reiterating its 2019 guidance of low- to mid-teens revenue growth. Scout24 will provide guidance for 2020 and beyond at the upcoming Capital Markets Day.
In addition, Scout24 has launched a program to review, analyse and benchmark its operating model, processes and resource allocation. The program focuses on driving simplicity and agility to support future growth and faster execution. Combined with a stronger focus on Scout24's two core verticals, the program will enable the Group to streamline operations, realise operational efficiencies and focus on profitability across its two powerhouses. Like-for-like, i.e. as if new acquisitions or divestments would have been consolidated/deconsolidated in 2018 already. Reported: 15.0 to 17.0%.
iii. Capital allocation optimisation
Based on the outlined roadmap to drive revenue growth and profitability, the Management Board expects robust and growing free cash flow generation for the years to come. Scout24 will continue to re-invest into growth as its first priority. Any potential M&A activities will be undertaken in a disciplined manner with a focus on value accretion and strengthening of the market position of its two core verticals.
Scout24's second priority is to return cash to shareholders in line with the existing dividend policy of 30.0% to 50.0% pay-out-ratio of adjusted net income over time. In addition to returning cash to its shareholders by way of dividend, Scout24 will implement an up to EUR300 million share buy-back program, representing around 6.0 % of the existing share capital based on the current share price in accordance with existing authorisations. The Company anticipates completing this share buy-back as of September 2019 within the next 12 months.
Finally, the third priority is the repayment of debt. The share buyback program will be funded with a combination of existing cash and cash generated and temporary incremental debt.
New Supervisory Board Members
Besides implementing the updated strategic roadmap to create long-term shareholder value, Scout24 continuously focuses on improving its expertise and corporate governance across the entire company. As part of that, the Company intends to strengthen the Supervisory Board by nominating three new candidates as Board members. Mathias Hedlund, Chief Executive Officer of Etraveli AB, André Schwämmlein, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of FlixMobility GmbH and Frank H. Lutz, Chief Executive Officer of CRX Markets AG will be proposed to the Annual General Meeting as new members of the Supervisory Board. Subject to the resolution of the Annual General Meeting, they will succeed David Roche, Dr. Liliana Solomon and Michael Zahn, who have decided to resign from the Supervisory Board as of 1 July 2019 (Michael Zahn) or upon the end of the Annual General Meeting on 30 August 2019, respectively.
The Management Board and the Supervisory Board thank David Roche, Dr. Liliana Solomon and Michael Zahn for their valuable service and contributions to Scout24 as members of the Supervisory Board.
With regard to the new candidates, Dr. Hans-Holger Albrecht, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, stated: "We want to enhance Scout24 at all levels. Therefore, we went through an in-depth process to identify the best candidates to add relevant expertise to the Supervisory Board and oversee the development of the company. I would be pleased if our shareholders confirmed our candidates with their votes in the upcoming Annual General Meeting on 30 August and welcome Mathias Hedlund, André Schwämmlein and Frank H. Lutz as new members to the Supervisory Board. These appointments would further demonstrate our ambition together with the Management Board to position Scout24 as a leading European player."
SOURCE Scout24 AG
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