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Scout24's activist shareholders gain non-executive board seat

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Scout24's activist shareholders gain non-executive board seat
FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Scout24, an operator of digital marketplaces for real estate and automobiles, is pictured in Munich, Germany July 5, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/File Photo   -   Copyright  Michael Dalder(Reuters)
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By Alexander Hübner and Jörn Poltz

MUNICH (Reuters) – Activist investors calling for strategic change at Scout24 <G24n.DE> have won a vote to place a representative on the German classifieds group’s non-executive supervisory board, ramping up pressure on management.

Christoph Brand, an executive at Swiss publisher Tamedia <TAMN.S>, won a board seat at the group’s annual shareholder meeting in Munich, beating out rival candidate Mathias Hedlund, who had been proposed by Scout24’s management.

Brand had been nominated by London-based Pelham Capital, which has built a 7.7% position in the group.

A takeover bid for the classifieds group by Hellman & Friedman and Blackstone failed earlier this year, despite management’s recommendation that shareholders accept the offer.

That bid attracted the attention of activists including Pelham and Elliott, which has disclosed a stake of more than 7%, and which have called on the company to boost shareholder returns.

Scout24 said this month it would explore a sale or spin-off of its autos platform AutoScout24 and borrow more to buy back shares, in a concession to Elliott’s demand to carve out and sell AutoScout24.

The company runs Germany’s leading property portal ImmobilienScout24 and its autos operation, which competes with eBay’s <EBAY.O>, is present in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria.

(Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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