Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE), Germany’s biggest phone company, selected four private-equity firms for the next round of bids for a stake in its Scout24 digital classifieds business, people familiar with the auction said.
Apax Partners LLP, TPG Capital, Hellman & Friedman LLC and Silver Lake Management LLC are still in the running for a 30 percent stake in Scout24, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The offers value the business at 1.6 billion euros ($2.1 billion) to 2 billion euros; final bids are due by next week, they said.
Axel Springer AG (SPR), Germany’s biggest newspaper publisher, said last week it’s no longer interested in Scout24. Buyout firms including KKR & Co. and EQT Partners AB have also dropped out of the running, the people said.
Scout24 has 14 million monthly visitors and operates in 22 countries providing online classifieds for cars, properties, jobs, travel and relationships, according to an August report on its website, making it Deutsche Telekom’s best-known digital brand. Deutsche Telekom is weighing a stake sale as it seeks a partner to help expand the business, the people said.
Europe’s phone companies are looking to offload Internet and content businesses to raise money for building high-speed mobile networks. Telefonica SA (TEF) of Spain last year announced the sale of its stake in online travel agency Rumbo, while Telecom Italia SpA (TIT) agreed to sell a television unit in March.
Deutsche Telekom spokesman Andreas Leigers said the strategic review of Scout24 continues, declining to elaborate. Representatives for TPG, Hellman & Friedman and Apax declined to comment. Silver Lake didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Deutsche Telekom rose 0.5 percent to 9.68 euros at 9:16 a.m. in Frankfurt.