Germany’s Scout24 prepares autumn listing, sources: Reuters

(Reuters) Germany’s biggest digital classifieds group Scout24 has revived last year’s listing plans and aims to debut on the stock market in autumn, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The flotation is expected to value Scout24 at about 3.5 to 4 billion euros ($3.8 to $4.4 billion) including debt, one of the sources said. The company currently has about 650 million euros in debt.

A stake of about 25 percent of the equity could be listed, although that percentage is not yet fixed, giving the share sale a value of 700-800 million euros, the source added.

Scout24 is set to publish an intention to float in early September, the sources said. Management has scheduled meetings with analysts next week to update them on the group’s latest financial performance and recent acquisitions, one source said.

Private equity firms Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone own 70 percent of Scout24, which they bought in 2014 for about 1.5 billion euros from Deutsche Telekom, which still holds 30 percent.

Scout24, Hellman & Friedman, Blackstone and Deutsche Telekom all declined to comment on the story, though Deutsche Telekom reiterated that it was open to divesting its stake.

The group includes ImmobilienScout24 – Germany’s biggest property portal, attracting more than 12 million unique monthly visitors – and AutoScout24, an online marketplace for cars and motorbikes with about 8 million monthly users.

It has undergone a cost-cutting programme since the private equity takeover. It has also sold off some smaller assets and refinanced its debt on more attractive terms while paying a dividend to its owners.

‘DIGITAL ASSETS WELL VALUED’
Scout24’s owners had initially planned to float the group last year but then shelved the plan as equities markets dropped.

Stock markets have since recovered, and German companies have carried out listings this month despite temporary disruptions caused by the Greek debt crisis.

Scout24 expects to post earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of more than 200 million in 2016. Allowing for a certain discount for IPO investors, the equity will likely be sold at a multiple of 18-19 times EBITDA.

Peers like British online property portal Rightmove and Auto Trader currently trade at 22.2 and 20.9 times their forward EBITDA, respectively – near their all-time highs. Peer Zoopla trades at 17.3 times.

“There is no secret that digital assets are well valued,” Scout24 Chief Executive Greg Ellis told Reuters earlier this week, adding: “The decision to IPO lies with our owner and timing is always a function of their expectations and market opportunity.”

Scout24, which last year booked an 11 percent rise in revenue from continuing operations to about 340 million euros, has also caught the attention of broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 , which has considered buying a stake in the company.