Munich The online marketplace operator Scout24 wants to keep its shareholders on track with massive share buybacks. Overall, the group plans to buy back papers worth 1.69 billion euros, said Scout24 on Wednesday evening in Munich. In a first reaction, the share price on the Tradegate trading platform rose by more than seven percent. At the end of the year, the US financial investor Hellman & Friedman (H&F) was awarded the contract for AutoScout24 for 2.9 billion euros. The transaction is nearing completion.
Scout24 had already announced in December that it would distribute part of the sales proceeds to the shareholders. The downsized company plans to use the remaining money to reduce debt. The dividend for 2019 is to be increased to 90 (2018: 64) cents per share. That is around 50 percent of the net profit, said a spokesman.
The share buyback takes place in three parts. Scout24 plans to acquire the first 490 million euros on the stock exchange from April to the end of the year. The authorization that the company received from the shareholders in 2017 is sufficient. For the rest of the buyback, the marketplace operator needs the approval of the Annual General Meeting, which is to take place in June.
Shares for 200 million euros are to be bought on the stock exchange by 2021 by the Annual General Meeting. For the last, largest tranche of over a billion euros, there will be a public purchase offer to shareholders at the beginning of 2021 as soon as the business figures for 2020 are available. The papers collected in the process are to be confiscated and the share capital reduced accordingly.
In the future, Scout24 will only consist of the real estate portal ImmobilienScout24. The prospects have deteriorated due to the corona crisis. Few tenants are currently looking for a new apartment, visits are difficult due to the exit restrictions in many European countries.
The forecast for the current year is therefore no longer valid, said Scout24. Finally, sales in continuing operations should grow by six to eight percent this year, and the operating return on sales (EBITDA margin) should be 65 percent.
More: The Internet company has separated from the Autoscout24 and Finanzcheck divisions. That only makes sense in the competition against Google and Amazon.