Auto1 is currently in talks with advisers to explore a potential purchase of AutoScout24, according to business newspaper Handelsblatt (in German). Talks are at an early stage and might not lead to any deals.

Auto1 is reportedly showing real interest in preparing an offer for AutoScout24, people familiar with the matter have said. The Berlin-based start-up is not alone in pursuing a possible bid. Permira, a London-headquartered private equity firm, might also make a move on the popular vertical.

Analysts believe that AutoScout24 could fetch more than €2 billion ($2.2 billion U.S.) should it come up for sale. “Auto1 may be able to leverage synergies with its current product to offer a higher price than buyout companies,” Handelsblatt reported.

SoftBank-backed Auto1 is best known for its brands AUTO1.com, WirKaufenDeinAuto.de and AutoHero. In 2018, the company grew its revenue by 32% to €2.9 billion ($3.2 billion U.S.) — making it one of Europe’s most valued unlisted start-ups. Since Auto1’s management is keen to focus on its European portfolio, buying AutoScout24 would further cement its market position.

A sale or spin-off of AutoScout24 does not seem that unlikely after Scout24 CEO Tobias Hartmann openly discussed this possibility earlier this week. Scout24 has come under pressure as one of its shareholders, activist investor Elliott Management, called on Hartmann to sell the company’s auto unit.

Scout24 is in the middle of undergoing a strategic review of its digital classifieds assets and will provide an update on its progress at the group’s capital markets day in November.

 

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