Hellman & Friedman preps for Scout24 IPO

Target: Scout24

Vaulation: Potentially $2 billion

Multiple: 20x expected operating earnings

Sponsor: Hellman & Friedman

Financial Advisers: STJ Advisors, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Jefferies, JPMorgan, Barclays

The investment firm has chosen STJ Advisors to organize the process, in which Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse are expected to act as global coordinators with the help of Jefferies, JPMorgan and Barclays, the sources told sister news service Reuters.

Investment banks that have been invited to pitch are also being asked to present other ideas on what to do with the cluster of Internet portals, which includes real estate site ImmobilienScout24 and car trading site AutoScout24, one of the sources said. “They want to take advantage of the market while it is there,” said another source who is monitoring the process.

In February Hellman & Friedman closed a deal to acquire a 70 percent stake in Scout24 for about 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion), valuing the business at 2 billion euros, or about 20x its expected operating earnings. In a share listing, which could take place as soon as later this year or in early 2015, Scout24 may be valued at roughly the same level, the sources said, although final pricing would largely depend on market conditions and the performance of peers.

Shares in UK online property portal Rightmove currently trade at 17.2x its expected forward EBITDA, according to Reuters data. Earlier this year, peer Zoopla also floated on the London stock exchange.

Stocks of newly listed Internet companies have had a mixed performance so far this year. While shares in Zoopla have risen 8 percent since their flotation, shares in Spanish online travel agency eDreams Odigeo have plunged 56 percent and shares in British online domestic appliances retailer AO World have lost 48 percent since their debuts.

In Germany at least three other Internet companies are currently preparing for stock market listings, with some expected to come through later this year. Rocket Internet, the German venture capital firm behind dozens of online start-ups, is planning for an IPO, as is one of its biggest investments, online fashion retailer Zalando. German publisher Axel Springer also has started preparations to float its online classified advertising unit.

The size of a potential listing of Scout24 has not yet been decided, one of the people familiar with the matter said, but added that initially the investor might float a stake of as little as 20 percent. “But that will really depend on demand,” the person said. “An IPO would give Hellman & Friedman the opportunity to have a listed asset and sell down in due course.”

Scout24, the advisers and Deutsche Telekom declined to comment, while STJ and Hellman & Friedman were not immediately available for comment.

Sophie Sassard, Arno Schuetze and Freya Berry are correspondents for Reuters in London and Frankfurt. Additional reporting by Alexander Hübner.