Dufry buys remaining stake in Greece's HDF for 328 million euros

ZURICH Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:20am EST

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss travel retailer Dufry (DUFN.VX) said it was buying the 49 percent stake in Hellenic Duty Free (HDF) it does not already own from Greek rival Folli Follie (HDFr.AT) for 328 million euros ($452 million), a vote of confidence in the austerity-hit economy.

Dufry bought a controlling 51 percent stake in the Greek travel retailer in October 2012 for 200.5 million euros, with an option to acquire the remaining 49 percent in 2016.

Dufry said in a statement on Thursday the operation had contributed 274 million Swiss francs ($309.3 million) to group revenue between April and September. It expects to achieve an incremental 10 million euros in synergies thanks to the deal.

Dufry will pay for the remaining stake with a combination of 175 million euros in cash and 1,231,233 ordinary shares, valued at 153 million euros, that Dufry will issue to Folli Follie Group from its authorised capital.

Folli Follie Group will join a group of shareholders led by Travel Retail Investments SCA. Dufry has agreed to nominate George Koutsolioutsos for election to the board at next year's annual shareholders' meeting, Dufry said.

Dufry said it is planning to refurbish and expand retail space at key airports in Greece, where HDF generates more than 80 percent of the turnover of its 111 shops with international visitors, mainly from Britain and Germany.

The transaction will allow the full financial integration of HDF, with benefits in cash management and a reduction in yearly financing costs of 10 million francs on a comparable basis, Dufry said.

Dufry said it had entered into a new 500 million euro term loan with a group of banks for a duration of five years to finance the cash portion of the deal and to repay 335 million euros of HDF's debts with local banks in Greece.

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by David Holmes)

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