Scout24 reports completion of sale of subsidiary Autoscout24

Scout24 headquarters

The company plans to concentrate on real estate brokerage in the future.

(Photo: Reuters)

Dusseldorf Portal operator Scout24 reports completion of the sale of its subsidiary Autoscout24. The private equity firm Hellman & Friedman paid 2.84 billion euros for the broker of new and used cars. The original price of just under 2.9 billion euros was adjusted to the provisionally determined net financial and current assets and adjusted slightly downwards.

From April 1st, the buyer now takes control of the former car division of the Munich M-Dax group. The former Scout24 subsidiaries Financescout24 and Finanzcheck also belong to Autoscout24. They help car buyers to finance the car purchase, for example.

In the future, Scout24 will concentrate on its digital real estate marketplace Immoscout24. When the transaction is completed, a capital repatriation program begins: Scout24 plans to pay off 780 million euros in debt, distribute 94.3 million euros in dividends and buy back shares with a value of up to 1.69 billion euros.

The company announced that the first tranche of 490 million will be launched at short notice.

More: Scout24 sees no impact on the real estate boom in the corona crisis


Xerox withdraws billion dollar offer for HP

HP headquarters

The hostile takeover of the computer manufacturer was canceled.

(Photo: AFP)

San Francisco The US printer manufacturer Xerox In the middle of the corona virus pandemic, the planned hostile takeover of the computer company HP stops. Xerox described Tuesday night’s move as disappointing, but necessary to focus on addressing the current crisis.

Xerox had $ 35 billion for the much larger one HP offered, which makes about six times as much annual turnover. The group should have largely financed the acquisition through new debt.

Not only the financial uncertainty caused by Corona seems to have made the deal impossible, but also the impact of the pandemic on the business of both companies: Xerox mainly sells large printers that are used in offices and are currently hardly used and least of all are bought. HP, on the other hand, benefits more from the trend towards home office.

The Silicon Valley pioneer makes two thirds of its sales with home computers, and its printers are also aimed at private individuals. In the crisis, Xerox’s business is under more pressure than HP’s.

The value of Xerox stock has halved in the past five weeks, while HP’s share certificates have fallen by around a quarter, about the same as the overall market.
Both papers suffered from the end of the takeover fantasy: Xerox shares fell by more than two percent in morning trading in New York, and HP shares fell by more than nine percent.

Icahn is already moving on

The streak puller behind the deal was the activist investor Carl Icahn, who at least temporarily held larger shares in both companies. Icahn already seems to have shifted his focus: In an interview with CNBC, the billionaire said recently that the shares of some corporations are now being “given away”. He had long considered the stock market overvalued, but now there are stocks of some solid companies to buy cheap.

The withdrawal is considered a victory for HP boss Enrique Lores, who had rejected the takeover offer published for the first time in November as too low. In February, Xerox increased its offer again, whereupon Lores showed unwillingness to talk.

Now the Spaniard, who has only been leading HP since November, is confident that HP can survive the crisis on his own: “We have a healthy cash position and a balance sheet that enables us to tackle unexpected challenges like a pandemic while at the same time being strategic To keep options open for the future. ”

HP has invested heavily in the development of industrial 3D printers in recent years. These were used in the times of Corona in the production of face or respiratory masks.

More: Follow the current developments in the corona crisis in our news blog.


Scout24 wants to buy back shares for billions

Scout24 headquarters in Munich

The online marketplace provider plans to buy back shares worth billions.

(Photo: Reuters)

Munich The online marketplace operator Scout24 wants to keep its shareholders on track with massive share buybacks. Overall, the group plans to buy back papers worth 1.69 billion euros, said Scout24 on Wednesday evening in Munich. In a first reaction, the share price on the Tradegate trading platform rose by more than seven percent. At the end of the year, the US financial investor Hellman & Friedman (H&F) was awarded the contract for AutoScout24 for 2.9 billion euros. The transaction is nearing completion.

Scout24 had already announced in December that it would distribute part of the sales proceeds to the shareholders. The downsized company plans to use the remaining money to reduce debt. The dividend for 2019 is to be increased to 90 (2018: 64) cents per share. That is around 50 percent of the net profit, said a spokesman.

The share buyback takes place in three parts. Scout24 plans to acquire the first 490 million euros on the stock exchange from April to the end of the year. The authorization that the company received from the shareholders in 2017 is sufficient. For the rest of the buyback, the marketplace operator needs the approval of the Annual General Meeting, which is to take place in June.

Shares for 200 million euros are to be bought on the stock exchange by 2021 by the Annual General Meeting. For the last, largest tranche of over a billion euros, there will be a public purchase offer to shareholders at the beginning of 2021 as soon as the business figures for 2020 are available. The papers collected in the process are to be confiscated and the share capital reduced accordingly.

In the future, Scout24 will only consist of the real estate portal ImmobilienScout24. The prospects have deteriorated due to the corona crisis. Few tenants are currently looking for a new apartment, visits are difficult due to the exit restrictions in many European countries.

The forecast for the current year is therefore no longer valid, said Scout24. Finally, sales in continuing operations should grow by six to eight percent this year, and the operating return on sales (EBITDA margin) should be 65 percent.

More: The Internet company has separated from the Autoscout24 and Finanzcheck divisions. That only makes sense in the competition against Google and Amazon.