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Scout24 can afford leverage ratio of up to 3.5 for buybacks - CEO

FRANKFURT, Aug 13 (Reuters) - German classifieds group Scout24 can cope with a higher long-term leverage ratio of up to 3.5 times core earnings to fund greater capital return to shareholders, CEO Tobias Hartmann said on Tuesday.

The increase in long-term leverage acknowledges a call by U.S. activist investment fund Elliott to return more capital to shareholders than a 300 million euros ($337 million) buyback proposed by management. ($1 = 0.8915 euros) (Reporting by Douglas Busvine Editing by Tassilo Hummel)