German online classified-ads firm Scout24 exploring sale - FT

(Reuters) - German online classifieds company Scout24 AG is exploring a sale that could see it taken private in one of the country’s largest leveraged buyouts in years, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

The news pushed its shares up by 12 percent in pre-market trade on Friday.

Scout24 has retained banks and advisers to help with a potential sale and a number of private equity firms are taking a look at a bid for the company, the FT said, citing sources.

U.S. technology-focused buyout firm Silver Lake is expected to be among the bidders looking to acquire Scout24, the newspaper reported.

A spokesperson for Scout24 declined to comment.

Scout24 best known for its ImmobilienScout24 home listings in Germany and AutoScout24 car listings across Europe and was previously owned by Hellman & Friedman, which acquired a controlling stake from Germany’s Deutsche Telekom in 2013, before listing the business in 2015.

Silver Lake earlier this year bought British peer ZPG, which operates the online property portals Zoopla and PrimeLocation, for 2.2 billion pounds, which along with rival and market leader Rightmove dominates the UK market.

Scout24, which had a market value of 3.8 billion euros (3.4 billion pounds) at Thursday’s close, could be valued at more than 5 billion euros including the company’s 600 million euros in net debt, the report said, eclipsing the 4.1 billion euro takeover of German generic drugmaker Stada by Bain and Cinven.

Reporting by Rishika Chatterjee in Bengaluru and Alexander Huebner in Munich; Editing by James Emmanuel and Maria Sheahan