December 16, 2019 / 1:38 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Scout24 in talks to sell AutoScout24 unit to Hellman & Friedman - source

(Adds company statement)

MUNICH, Dec 16 (Reuters) - German classifieds group Scout24 is in advanced talks to sell its cars division AutoScout24 to private equity investor Hellman & Friedman (H&F), it said in an adhoc statement on Monday.

H&F is offering to buy the unit for significantly more than 2.5 billion euros ($2.76 billion), Scout24 said, adding that neither its management board nor supervisory board had granted necessary approval to conclude such a transaction.

Scout24, which reluctantly initiated the sale process under pressure from U.S. activist investor Elliott, in October selected three private equity firms - H&F, Permira and Apax - to take part in the final round of the auction.

AutoScout24 - which operates in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria - bills itself as the largest automotive digital marketplace in the European Union. It lags eBay’s in its home market, however.

Elliott has argued that Scout24’s auto and property listings businesses have few synergies. It says ImmobilienScout24 could command a standalone valuation of 5 billion euros, while AutoScout24 could fetch up to 2.5 billion euros.

A joint bid by private equity houses H&F and Blackstone to take over Scout24 in its entirety failed in May after a share-price rally squeezed the premium on offer.

H&F declined to comment. ($1 = 0.9073 euros) (Reporting by Alexander Huebner; writing by Thomas Seythal; editing by Sabine Wollrab and Michelle Martin)

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