Altarea Makes $141 Million Bid for French Online Retail Company

Altarea SCA, controlled by property entrepreneur Alain Taravella, made an offer for French internet retailer Rue du Commerce SA that values the company at about 100 million euros ($141 million).

Altarea agreed to buy almost 24 percent of Rue du Commerce from buyout firm Apax Partners LLP for 9 euros a share. The online retailer’s founders will exchange their stake for shares in a new Altarea holding company, the Paris-based company said today in a statement. Altarea said it will make an equivalent offer for the remaining Rue du Commerce shares.

The acquisition would add a digital mall to the physical shopping centers that Taravella’s company owns. Retail landlords are adapting to online commerce as internet sales change where and how much space retailers need. Westfield Group Ltd., the world’s largest mall landlord, is trying out a similar strategy in Australia and New Zealand.

Altarea’s offer is 48 percent above the 6.08-euro price of Rue du Commerce shares when they were suspended in Paris trading earlier today.

Rue du Commerce, which started out as a specialist in electronic goods, generated net income of 1.2 million euros and had net cash of 18 million euros in the financial year ended March 31, the company based in a Paris suburb reported June 9.

Rue du Commerce founders Patrick Jacquemin and Gauthier Picquart exchanged their combined 4.5 percent stake in the company for a 20 percent stake in the new holding company, Altacom, while Altarea will retain the balance.

Apax Partners is selling its entire stake since backing the start-up in 1999 and selling shares in an initial public offering in 2005.

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