KKR will acquire 49 percent of the shares in each of Ringier Digital AG’s subsidiaries Scout24 Schweiz AG and Omnimedia AG. Scout24 Schweiz AG comprises online marketplaces for motor vehicles (autoscout24.ch, motoscout24.ch) and real estate (immoscout24.ch) as well as the anibis.ch general classifieds marketplace.
AutoScout24 is the number one among Switzerland’s online portals for new and used cars, while ImmoScout24 is the country’s leading online real-estate platform and anibis.ch is the largest general classifieds marketplace. Through its various platforms, the Scout24 Group operates the most comprehensive Swiss network of online marketplaces. In aggregate, these platforms attract some 21 million visits each month. Omnimedia AG is one of Switzerland’s leading digital marketing companies. In addition to offering its national and regional clients target-group-specific online advertising concepts, Omnimedia has exclusive marketing rights for Ringier’s Swiss Scout24 platforms.
In the words of Marc Walder, Ringier AG’s Chief Executive Officer, “As a family-owned company, we take great care in choosing our business partners. We are proud to be working with KKR, one of the world’s leading investment firms that has a strong track record in the media and technology sectors, on the further development of our digital business. Today, Ringier already generates 30 percent of its revenues in this field. We aim to increase that share to 50 percent over the next three-to-four years.” Walder will be appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of Scout24 Schweiz AG.
As Philipp Freise, Member and Head of the European Media & Digital investment team at KKR, explains, “The key objective of this investment is to put our entrepreneurial capital to work in this partnership with Ringier. We see significant potential in Scout24 Schweiz and Omnimedia. Both have established strong national positions in the attractive Swiss market. We look forward to working with Ringier to realize the full potential of these high-quality companies. KKR’s global network of advisors and technology investment professionals will be a resource to the companies in that endeavour.”
KKR has comprehensive experience in digital media. The firm’s most recent investments in this area include BMG Rights Management (a joint venture with Bertelsmann), Fotolia, ProSiebenSat.1, GoDaddy, InternetBrands and Mitchell International. As an owner-managed investment firm, KKR already has a broad and substantial track record of successful collaborations with leading family-owned companies, both as a minority and a majority shareholder. KKR also utilizes its international network and financial expertise to support its partners in both strategic and operational matters. The investment in Scout24 Schweiz und Omnimedia is made by the KKR European Fund III.
In the years ahead, the goal is to further expand the very good market position the two companies have already established. Switzerland’s online sector has substantial potential for growth when compared to international benchmarks. While online advertising accounts for a very low share of the overall advertising mix, Swiss consumers are avid users of broadband and mobile internet. Combined with substantial purchasing power and an innovation-oriented economy, these factors provide for a sound foundation for Ringier’s digital growth strategy.
As Thomas Kaiser, Ringier AG’s Chief Digital Officer, with management responsibility for the Ringier Digital division and member of Scout24 Schweiz AG’s Board of Directors, puts it, “The partnership with KKR provides our teams with an excellent opportunity to work with leading experts on accelerating the growth of the online marketplaces and to augment our leadership in the Swiss online classifieds market. We will be working with our existing successful management team on seizing this opportunity.”
In the words of Bob Bellack, co-founder of Cars.com and a future member of Scout24 Schweiz AG’s Board of Directors, “The potential, which the Swiss online classifieds market offers, is fascinating. I am looking forward to working with the management team to apply leading best practices in online classifieds from the U.S. market to Scout24 Schweiz and Omnimedia. This will enable the companies to provide an ever better offering to their customers and users.”
This transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals. Financial details are not being disclosed.
Ringier AG, Corporate Communications