December 16, 2019 / 1:43 PM / 6 months ago

Scout24 in talks to sell AutoScout24 to Hellman & Friedman

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Scout24, an operator of digital marketplaces for real estate and automobiles, is pictured in Munich, Germany July 5, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/File Photo

MUNICH (Reuters) - German classifieds group Scout24 (G24n.DE) said on Monday it is in advanced talks to sell AutoScout24 to private equity investor Hellman & Friedman (H&F).

H&F is offering to buy the cars division for significantly more than 2.5 billion euros ($2.76 billion), Scout24 said, adding that neither its management board nor supervisory board had not yet granted necessary approval to conclude a deal.

A source familiar with the matter said that H&F was offering up to 3 billion euros for the unit.

Scout24, which initiated the sale 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 (EBAY.O) 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 (BX.N) 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.

Reporting by Alexander Huebner; writing by Thomas Seythal and Arno Schuetze; editing by Sabine Wollrab, Michelle Martin and Alexander Smith

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