Deutsche Telekom is reported to be holding exclusive talks with private-equity player Hellman & Friedman over the sale of its Scout24 online classifieds portal.
According to a report from the UK’s Financial Times newspaper, citing sources familiar with the matter, the German incumbent is on the verge of selling a 70% stake in Scout24 to Hellman & Friedman (San Francisco, CA, USA) for the fee of about €1.5 billion ($2 billion).
Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) had flagged interest in selling Scout24 as far back as December 2012, and has subsequently been holding talks with a variety of prospective private-equity buyers, including Apax (London, UK), EQT (Stockholm, Sweden), Silver Lake (Menlo Park, CA, USA), as well as German publishing group Axel Springer (Berlin, Germany).
The operator no longer views Scout24 as core to its business activities and – like other European incumbents – is trying to reduce debts while raising money for investment in key business activities, including the rollout of 4G and fiber networks.
Deutsche Telekom also appears to remain interested in acquiring assets that can strengthen its mainstream business, and recently agreed a €546m takeover of GTS Central Europe (Warsaw, Poland), a company operating fibre-optic networks and data centers in several Eastern European markets.
Scout24 has operations across Europe, employing more than 1,200 people in total, with the company’s AutoScout24 cars portal active across 18 European countries.
The company has been owned by Deutsche Telekom since 2006.
According to the Financial Times report, the operator is keen to retain a minority stake in the business so that it can benefit from potential growth under new private-equity owners.
Both Deutsche Telekom and Hellman & Friedman have reportedly declined to comment on the story.