|Bid||53.65 x 30400|
|Ask||53.70 x 1100|
|Day's Range||52.80 - 53.70|
|52 Week Range||33.22 - 54.30|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.32|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||38.63|
|Earnings Date||Nov 7, 2019|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||0.64 (1.20%)|
|1y Target Est||44.80|
German classifieds group Scout24 has picked three private equity firms for the second round of bidding for its autos unit AutoScout24, people close to the matter said on Thursday. Permira, Apax and Hellman & Friedman have been allowed to proceed in the auction for the unit, which is expected to value AutoScout at 2-2.3 billion euros ($2.2-2.6 billion), they added. Softbank-backed used-car dealing platform Auto1 had offered to buy AutoScout in the past, only to be turned down by Scout24 earlier this year.
FRANKFURT/MUNICH, Oct 9 (Reuters) - German classifieds group Scout24 has attracted interest in its autos unit AutoScout24 from used-car dealing platform Auto1 as well as from several private equity firms, people close to the matter said. Scout24, yielding to pressure from activist investor Elliott , said in August it would explore a sale or spin-off of AutoScout24, which is Germany's No.2 used-car classifieds platform. Buyout groups Permira, Apax, Carlyle and Hellman & Friedman are among those expected to hand in first-round bids of between 2 billion and 2.3 billion euros ($2.2 billion-$2.5 billion), including debt, for Autoscout24 by a Wednesday deadline, the sources said.
Activist investors calling for strategic change at Scout24 have won a vote to place a representative on the German classifieds group's non-executive supervisory board, ramping up pressure on management. Christoph Brand, an executive at Swiss publisher Tamedia , won a board seat at the group's annual shareholder meeting in Munich, beating out rival candidate Mathias Hedlund, who had been proposed by Scout24's management. Scout24 said this month it would explore a sale or spin-off of its autos platform AutoScout24 and borrow more to buy back shares, in a concession to Elliott's demand to carve out and sell AutoScout24.
Fund manager Baillie Gifford on Friday threw its weight behind the management team at German classifieds group Scout24, which has faced calls from activist investor Elliott Advisors to break up the business. Baillie Gifford, one of the five biggest shareholders in Scout24, said it had confidence in the team headed by CEO Tobias Hartmann and that a period of calm and stability was needed for the company to execute on strategy. "We want to support the management to achieve its future goals rather than seeking to deliver a short-term return at the expense of long-term value creation for shareholders," fund manager Jenny Davis said in a statement to Reuters.
German classifieds group Scout24 said on Tuesday it would explore a sale or spin-off of its autos platform and borrow more to buy back shares, after facing calls from activist investor Elliott to boost shareholder returns. The strategic review marks a concession to Elliott's demand to carve out and sell AutoScout24, which sources close to the U.S. fund say could fetch up to 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion). "We can consider a range of options for AutoScout24 and will examine these with an open mind.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Elliott Management Corp. is resuming confrontational activism in Germany, potentially reviving fears that “locust” funds are back and up to no good. Investors are probably being too skeptical that Elliott will be able to force positive change.The activist hedge fund has lambasted managers at Scout24 AG, a Frankfurt-listed online real estate and car classifieds business capitalized at 5.4 billion euros ($6 billion). They are a soft target. The company’s board backed a cheap bid from Scout24’s former private-equity owners in February, only to see shareholders resoundingly reject the offer in May. The debacle has exposed the group to the broader attack that bad management is the reason for the share price weakness which triggered the attempted takeover.Elliott has had some Teutonic success through behind-the-scenes activism with SAP SE and Bayer AG. Here, it’s publicly calling for a break-up and much more aggressive leverage, accusing management of a “shocking lack of ambition” that has left the shares trading at a near 25% discount to an estimated fair value of 65 euros share.The market isn’t so sure. Scout24’s shares barely moved in response. It’s not hard to see why. To get to this higher value would require an uplift in operating performance. Scout24 already trades on 19 times expected Ebitda, nestling between real estate and auto peers Rightmove Plc and AutoTrader Group Plc. That feels about right given it’s a hybrid of the two. To be worth substantially more, the company will have to lift revenue and margins while maintaining its valuation multiple. That probably means raising prices. Suppose Scout24 could lift Ebitda from the 321 million euros expected this year to 375 million euros, a 17% jump, and nudge its valuation multiple a little higher to 20 times. That would imply an enterprise value of around 7.5 billion euros. Deduct net debt and the equity would be worth 6.8 billion euros, or 63 euros a share. Increase leverage via a buyback and Elliott’s share price target isn’t far off. It’s easier said than done. Elliott reckons a sale or demerger of the auto arm would help speed things along. Not only would it likely fetch a full price if there were competing bids, but Scout24 management could focus on lifting the performance of the real estate business. Perhaps.The danger is that Elliott has made change harder to achieve by blatantly telling the board what to do. The forthcoming annual meeting will see three new directors nominated. That provides a chance for Elliott to put forward an alternative slate. But suspicions have lingered around hedge funds and private equity in Germany ever since 2005, when politician Franz Muntefering described them as “swarms of locusts” that devour companies and destroy jobs. Elliott’s approach may be friendly to other shareholders, but the firm will need to tread carefully if it ups the pressure. The best hope is that a bidder now surfaces with an offer for the auto business that management can’t refuse. That would give Scout24 management a pretext to re-think leverage levels for what remains and adopt much of Elliott’s thinking without it looking that way. But whether that happens is not in Elliott’s hands.To contact the author of this story: Chris Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Baker at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Hughes is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals. He previously worked for Reuters Breakingviews, as well as the Financial Times and the Independent newspaper.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Elliott Management Corp. demanded German classifieds group Scout24 AG split itself in two and pursue a bigger share buyback to boost investor returns after a sale of the company fell through in May.The U.S. activist investor, which disclosed a 7% stake in Scout24 on Monday alongside a letter laying out its position, said the company should sell its car listing business and focus on its real-estate unit, a move that Elliott predicted could lift the stock close to 65 euros a share. That’s well beyond the company’s previous record and more than twice its initial-public offering of 30 euros in 2015.“We believe there is a growing demand among a wide array of stakeholders for Scout24’s leadership to demonstrate a level of urgency that has thus far been lacking,” Elliott said.Scout24 has been vulnerable to an activist since its shareholders rejected a 46-euro-per-share offer from private equity firms Blackstone Group LP and Hellman & Friedman in May. Last month, the company announced it would simplify its structure to better focus on its two biggest businesses -- auto and real estate -- as well as pursue a 300 million-euro ($334 million) share buyback. For Elliott, the moves aren’t enough.The stock is now trading near its record high, closing Friday at 50.25 euros, and is up about 25% this year. The shares rose 0.7% as of 12:08 p.m. in Frankfurt, while the broader Stoxx Europe 600 Index was down 1.6%.Elliott said it has outlined its views for a breakup of Scout24 in meetings with managers of the company, whom it said should never have recommended the Blackstone-Hellman & Friedman offer.The AutoScout24 car business and the Immobilienscout24 real estate unit “do not have any material synergies sitting under one roof,” Elliott said, arguing that the existing structure doesn’t allow for resources to be allocated efficiently across divisions and employees don’t have proper incentives.In a statement, Scout24 said it has had active discussions with shareholders including Elliott in the past few months, before and after announcing its new strategy and committed to continue the dialogue. “We have announced comprehensive steps to strengthen both core businesses, continue to grow revenue while increasing operational efficiency and capital structure optimization,” Scout24 said. AutoScout24 SuitorsThere is rumored or confirmed interest from potential buyers in AutoScout24, and Immobilienscout24 is worth more than 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) alone, almost as much as the entire company, Elliott said.A number of competitors could bid for AutoScout24, Germany’s second-biggest car listings business after EBay Inc.’s Mobile.de, with 1.1 million listings and 1.5 million listings, respectively.Softbank Group Corp.-backed Auto1 Group GmbH has expressed interest in buying the business in the past, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations were private. And German publisher Axel Springer SE, which is being acquired by KKR & Co., has been seen as a potential suitor by analysts at Liberum, who valued AutoScout24 at 2.3 billion euros in a note last month.Spokeswomen for Auto1 and Axel Springer declined to comment.Elliott’s six-page letter to Scout24, dated July 26, outlines what the activist sees as the company’s potential, what it views as “missed opportunities” and its opinion on Scout24’s path forward. Addressed to Chief Executive Officer Tobias Hartmann and Supervisory Board Chairman Hans-Holger Albrecht, it’s replete with strong criticisms. Elliott said Scout24’s current share buyback plan was “grossly lacking in ambition.”The investor complained that Scout24’s executives had heard the fund’s ideas privately and promised to give feedback on its proposals, but instead issued a July 19 press release with its strategy update that “widely missed the mark,” according to Elliott.Elliott in GermanyScout24 adds to Elliott’s campaigns in Germany, where it has recently targeted pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG, software company SAP SE and industrial firm Thyssenkrupp AG.Elliott wants Bayer to settle legal claims linked to products from its Monsanto unit to unlock shareholder value. SAP has pursued a restructuring since Elliott disclosed a 1.2 billion-euro stake in April. At Thyssenkrupp, the chief executive officer and chairman resigned following criticism from investors including Elliott, who derided the company’s slow turnaround and what they see as its poor share price performance.(Updates with Scout24 statement in eight paragraph, context throughout.)\--With assistance from Frank Connelly.To contact the reporters on this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at firstname.lastname@example.org;Eyk Henning in Frankfurt at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at firstname.lastname@example.org, Benedikt KammelFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
U.S. activist investor Elliott has urged German classifieds group Scout24 to sell its car listings business and ramp up a share buyback programme to boost returns to investors. Elliott, opening a new front in its broader push to shake up corporate Germany, accused Scout24 Chief Executive Tobias Hartmann of showing a lack of ambition and urged his management team to take immediate remedial action.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The market’s positive reaction to London Stock Exchange Group Plc’s planned $27 billion takeover of Refinitiv is a sign investors think the U.K. bourse is getting a great deal. If that’s right, couldn’t buyout firm Blackstone Group LP, which is selling the data provider, drive a harder bargain?London Stock Exchange shares jumped as much as 16% on Monday morning, adding 3.1 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) to the group’s market value. One interpretation is that investors think the company is paying a low price for the former Financial & Risk division of Canadian information group Thomson Reuters Corp. (Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with Refinitiv in providing financial news, data and information.)For LSE, a transaction of this scale isn’t without its risks – even if it intends to pay in shares rather than cash. Taking on Refinitiv’s net borrowings – $12 billion at Dec. 31 – could push leverage to comfortably over three times Ebitda at the point of completion, well above LSE’s target limit of two times. There’s also the risk of a distracting and lopsided integration: Refinitiv has 18,500 employees and LSE only 4,500.But the market judges that the strategic and financial benefits clearly outweigh the risks. The takeover would accelerate LSE’s transformation into a data provider from a trading platform. Financial information and index revenue would account for more than half of the group’s total after the deal, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.And the valuation put on Refinitiv is undemanding. The initial terms value it at 13 times adjusted 2018 Ebitda, according to JPMorgan Cazenove analysts. If you assume that the company’s future financial performance will benefit from Blackstone’s cost-cutting, the purchase price could be roughly 10 times underlying Ebitda for 2019 – about half the multiple at which LSE shares trade.Couldn’t Blackstone have pushed for a higher valuation – something closer to, say, $30 billion? True, it’s already doing well on the terms as proposed. The private equity firm’s consortium deployed $4 billion in equity and preferred stock when it bought a 55% stake in Refinitiv last year. As things stand, it would receive LSE shares worth more than double that based on their current price.But lock-ups will prevent Blackstone and its partners from cashing in their stakes in a hurry. LSE says this provision will involve a “long-term partnership”. If that is to be meaningful, the restriction would have to endure for the typical holding period for private equity investments, about five years. So the final internal rate of return on Refinitiv will be much lower than that implied by the preliminary terms of this deal.It would nevertheless be difficult for Blackstone to demand a higher price. The warm reaction of LSE shares makes it more likely that the exchange’s shareholders will approve the transaction. That should matter a lot to Blackstone, which has endured some knock-backs from the public markets recently – Scout24 AG shareholders recently rejected the buyout firm's offer as too low. Here the New York-based firm happens to be the vendor, but a transaction would still need to get the nod from LSE shareholders.Blackstone clients may wish the private equity firm was getting a bigger slice of the enlarged LSE. But the jump in the exchange’s shares – assuming it holds – should increase both the certainty of the deal completing and the value of it to them. Sometimes it pays to leave something on the table.To contact the author of this story: Chris Hughes at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Hughes is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals. He previously worked for Reuters Breakingviews, as well as the Financial Times and the Independent newspaper.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Osram Licht AG’s supervisory and managing boards accepted a 3.4 billion euro ($3.8 billion) takeover bid from Bain Capital and Carlyle Group LP, ending the German lighting company’s relatively brief and at times contentious period as a standalone company.Bain and Carlyle are offering 35 euros a share, 21% more than the stock’s close on Tuesday, amid reports about the latest offer. The price is still 15% lower than its peak this year in February. They’ve put a minimum acceptance level of 70% on the deal, excluding shares owned by Osram, and the acceptance period will run until early September. The stock rose 1.4% to 32.94 euros at the open of trading in Frankfurt.“Bain and Carlyle bring a lot of experience and have a deep knowledge of the industry,” Ingo Bank, Osram’s chief financial officer, said in a Bloomberg TV interview on Friday. “They will help us build the portfolio.”Bloomberg reported earlier Thursday that Osram’s supervisory board was poised to accept the offer.After Siemens AG spun off the light bulb-making division in 2013, Osram Chief Executive Officer Olaf Berlien began to refocus on higher technology, sparking a bitter and public dispute over strategy. Bain and Carlyle’s purchase of Osram would add to the $51.6 billion in private equity buyouts of European companies announced this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Negotiations to buy Osram have moved slowly since they were first revealed in February. Funding has been a challenge as potential lenders raised concerns about future earnings forecasts for the company after Osram issued a string of profit warnings.Osram’s earnings deterioration during negotiations had a big impact on the deal, and the bidders also had concerns about the impact of the U.S.-China trade war on business. Bain and Carlyle were able to push down the offer price, but also struggled to raise a significant amount of debt, people familiar with the matter said. In the end about 70% of the acquisition cost -- an unusually high proportion -- comes from equity, or cash contributed by the buyers, while the remainder will be borrowed money, the people said.The offer is unlikely to include a so-called material adverse change clause, one of the people said, a provision that would allow the buyer to withdraw from the transaction if certain negative events like a fresh profit warning arise. The buyout firms declined to comment.Osram suffered from a downturn in the automotive industry, yet there remain growth opportunities in that sector, including with autonomous vehicles and continued digital lighting, Bank said in the interview. Bain and Carlyle will be focused on margin improvement as well as growing the business, he added.What Bloomberg Opinion Says“It would require real guts to turn down what Bain and Carlyle are dangling. Osram was already in a weak state when news about the potential bid first emerged in November.”--Bloomberg Opinion columnist Chris HughesThe German company has struggled since it was spun off from Siemens. Berlien shifted Osram’s focus to high-tech specialized lighting and LED chips, although he’s failed to get a handle on weakening market demand as European car sales drop. He has also tried to branch out into new areas to attract revenue such as through the purchase of horticultural lighting maker Fluence.Bain and Carlyle support the company’s strategy, and the bid is “attractive to employees as a lot of the labor provisions will stay intact so, yes, we support the offer,” Bank said.Osram now has the task of getting shareholders on board. Given the board’s acceptance of the offer came just last night, Bank said the company “doesn’t have much feedback” from shareholders yet, but expects the bid to receive “very good support” from investors.The company is hoping to avoid the fate of other take-privates in Germany such as online classifieds operator Scout24 AG, where Blackstone Group LP and Hellman & Friedman in May failed to convince sufficient shareholders to sell amid pressure from hedge funds to boost the offer price.AMS InterestDuring negotiations with Bain and Carlyle, Austrian sensor manufacturer AMS AG made an informal approach about a potential takeover of Osram, according to people familiar with the matter. While there was some strategic fit to a deal, Osram decided against pursuing talks because of concerns about the feasibility of AMS to fund the transaction due to its size and debt levels, said the people.A representative for AMS, which has a market value of $3.4 billion and counts Apple Inc. among its key clients, declined to comment.Credit Suisse Group AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Macquarie Group Ltd. as well as Nomura Holdings Inc. were financial advisers to Bain and Carlyle. Perella Weinberg Partners LP worked with Osram.(Adds info on offer, AMS interest and advisers from seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Andrew Noël.To contact the reporters on this story: Eyk Henning in Frankfurt at email@example.com;Aaron Kirchfeld in London at firstname.lastname@example.org;Sarah Syed in London at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Matthew G. Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org, Amy Thomson, Ben ScentFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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. 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.
On Tuesday, Blackstone Group LP & Hellman & Friedman failed to secure enough support for their bid to buy Scout24 AG four years after the pair took the German directories business public. Inmarsat Plc is being taken over by group of private equity firms including Apax Partners LLP and Warburg Pincus LLC. Owners of 79% of the company’s stock backed the deal, exceeding the offer’s 75% threshold.
A takeover bid for Germany's Scout24 led by Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone has failed as it did not secure the required support of 50 percent of shares, the bidders said on Tuesday. The offer from private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, in partnership with Blackstone, had valued the Munich-based company at 5.7 billion euros (4.95 billion pounds) including debt. Best known for its ImmobilienScout24 home listings in Germany and AutoScout24 car listings across Europe, the company was previously owned by Hellman & Friedman, which acquired a controlling stake from Deutsche Telekom in 2013 before listing the business in 2015.
The 5.7 billion euro ($6.4 billion) bid for German classified advertising group Scout24 AG from Blackstone Group LP and Hellman & Friedman looks less generous after the market rally. Add the fact that the private equity firms are trying to reclaim a company they recently took public, and the chance of failure is ticking higher by the day. Peers Auto Trader Group Plc and Rightmove Plc are up 27 percent and 22 percent.