Private equity firm Hellman & Friedman will acquire 70 percent of German advertising company Scout24 from the telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom. Latham & Watkins is advising Hellman & Friedman on the transaction, German firm Hengeler Mueller is representing longtime client Deutsche Telekom, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher is acting as counsel to Scout24.
Under the terms of the deal, which was announced Thursday, Bonn, Germany–based Deutsche Telekom has agreed to sell the majority stake in Scout24 to San Francisco–based Hellman & Friedman for 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) in cash, giving the advertising company a value of approximately 2 billion euros ($2.71 billion). Scout24 produces apps that include ImmobilienScout24, which helps users find German real estate to rent or buy, and AutoScout24, which helps consumers search for new and used European cars to purchase.
Deutsche Telekom CFO and CEO-designate Timotheus Hottges said in a prepared statement issued in connection with the announcement of the transaction, “We chose this 70/30 partnership to allow us to deliver this outstanding result to our shareholders, while gaining the right partner for the future.”
In the same press release, Deutsche Telekom cited Hellman & Friedman’s reputation as a capable digital and Internet investor as one of the reasons the German telecom giant agreed to the deal. The private equity firm owns stakes in Dublin-based online travel booking site Web Reservations, and El Segundo, Calif.–based search and shopping site Internet Brands.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, pending regulatory approval.
The Latham team advising Hellman & Friedman is led by finance partner Christopher Hall and corporate partners Gregor Klenk, Hans-Jurgen Lutt and David Walker. Latham corporate associates Huw Thomas and Stefan Wirsch are also working on the matter. Through a spokeswoman, Latham declined to discuss its work on the transaction.
Willkie’s deal team includes executive compensation and employee benefits partner Christian Rolf and corporate and finance partner Mario Schmidt. Schmidt says he believes he and Rolf were tapped by Scout25 to work on the matter because they previously handled high-level level management assignments for both the buyer and seller. “The deal is definitely a complex structure,” says Schmidt. “It got a lot of media attention.” He declined to comment further.
Hengeler Mueller’s deal team includes human resources partner Christian Hoefs, M&A partners Christof Jackle and Emanuel Strehle, tax partner Ernst-Thomas Kraft and finance partner Johannes Tieves. Other lawyers from the firm working on the matter include intellectual property counsel Andrea Schlaffge and counsel Attila Oldage and Iris Paetzke. (A Hengeler spokesman did not provide practice areas for Oldage—who joined Munich boutique Gutt Olk Feldhaus in July—and Paetzke.) The Hengeler associates working on the deal Astrid Harmsen, Robert Kilian, Thomas Krawitz, Benjamin Leyendecker-Langner, Thomas Lang, Mattias Rothkopf, Anna Schulz and Fabian Seip. Members of the firm’s team were not available for comment.
Hengeler has advised Deutche Telekom on numerous previous transactions, including a December 2010 agreement with France’s Vivendi, Poland’s Elektrim and individual Elektrim creditors that settles all legal disputes between the parties on the way to ensuring Deutsche Telekom’s total control of Polish mobile telephone company Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa.
The firm also advised Deutsche Telekom in October 2008 on the sale of five call center sites owned by its Vivento Customer Services subsidiary to the private research and investment information company D+S Europe. The financial terms of that transaction were not disclosed.
Deutsche Telekom’s in-house legal team includes tax attorney Christian Dorenkamp, merger control attorney Hilmar Leonhardt and M&A attorneys Axel Lutzner and Jorn Biederbick.