Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Axel Springer, a large German multimedia conglomerate, has made a hostile 566 million euro bid for publicly-traded Groupe SeLoger, which includes SeLoger.com, the biggest real estate listings site in France, and related activities. This morning the AMF, the French securities regulator, approved the bid, which means Axel Springer can take it to shareholders. The management of Groupe SeLoger has appealed the ruling.Axel Springer owns the German tabloid Bild, which has the biggest circulation in Europe, and plenty of other offline and online assets throughout Europe, and has over $2.5 billion in yearly revenues. In France, they also recently acquired AuFeminin.com, a portal for women, for over 280 million euros.
Groupe SeLoger, meanwhile, has a great real estate listings business (we found our apartment through SeLoger.com) and related businesses like services to real estate brokers. It’s a survivor of the dotcom bubble, having originally started as a travel website and selling that off in 2001 and pivoting to real estate listings. The company is profitable with growing revenue and profits. Axel Springer’s values the company 13% over the share price when the offer was announced. The shares now trade around that level.
The management has rejected the bid, as well as Bernard Arnault, the owner of LVMH and the richest man in France, whose personal investment fund Groupe Arnault owns around 9% of the company. Axel Springer already owns 15% of Groupe SeLoger and rumours say they acquired it through private sales of the founders’ shares.
The deal would make a lot of sense for Axel Springer. Listings are an obvious complement to its media business, it already owns large online media properties in France, and SeLoger.com has a great position in the market.
Many people other than Arnault feel the price is too low. The company’s latest earnings showed revenue growing 10% and profits growing 20% and several analysts have price targets for the stock above the 34 offered by Axel Springer.
If we had to guess, we’d say Axel Springer will up its bid to 36 or 37 and take it home.
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