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BASEL / ROZZANO (dpa-AFX) – Swiss travel merchant Dufra, known for its duty-free shops, wants to take over the Italian petrol station operator Autogrill. With a turnover of around € 6.5 billion, this would create one of the world’s largest retailers in the travel industry, both companies announced Monday night. The focus should be on business in the airports. The news on the stock exchange was mixed. Remarkably, the potential buyer of Dufra grew while the curatorial stake in Autogrill fell.
This is because Dufry offers less on the stock exchange than the previously worth Autogrill. Nevertheless, the acquisition appears to be successful as Autogrill’s majority shareholder Edizione intends to sell its entire 50.3%. Behind Edizione is the Italian family of billionaires Benetton (Benetton Group). In return, it is to receive a 20-25 percent stake in Dufry and become the company’s largest shareholder in one fell swoop. The authorities have yet to approve the transaction.
The actual distribution will depend on how many Autogrill shareholders decide to buy Dufra shares, it said. Because the Swiss also want to offer the remaining shares and 0.158 Dufra notes for Autogrill. Alternatively, Autogrill shareholders should be able to opt for a cash payment of EUR 6.33 per security. Should Dufry receive sufficient Autogrill shares, these shares will be de-traded on Euronext (Euronext NV) in Milan.
On the stock exchange, Autogrill’s share price fell by around seven percent to EUR 6.35 and was therefore close to the cash offering. The stock market value of the Italian company was just over 2.4 billion euros. On the other hand, the news was well received by Dufra’s shareholders.
The prospect of a new main shareholder had a positive impact on the share price. The company’s stock market value rose by around eight percent to the equivalent of around 3.1 billion euros. Currently, the largest shareholders of the Swiss company are the financial investor Advent, Qatar, the Chinese trading giant Alibaba and the luxury goods group Richemont.
The two companies expect to save around 85 million Swiss francs (85.4 million euros) as a result of the merger. Both companies have so far been jointly represented in many countries such as the USA, Canada, China, Germany, France, Italy and Australia.
The main focus remains on what both companies consider to be the “highly attractive” market in the US. In addition, the new company intends to expand its presence in Latin America, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. Dufry pays particular attention to China, where it still sees great potential: according to an analysis by Dufry, Chinese and Asian-Pacific passengers account for around 37 percent of the world’s passengers. The group expects to be able to handle around 2.3 billion passengers worldwide as a result of the merger.
The company’s portfolio should then include a total of 5,500 stores and 350 serviced airports. “We want to carry out 80 percent of the combined group’s operations at the airports,” said Dufra CEO Xavier Rossinyol, who will also be responsible for managing the combined company, during the conference call. He strongly expects airport business to improve as the pandemic progresses. On the other hand, income from shops on other travel routes such as ports and highways should only be considered as an additional, minor segment. Rossinyol does not believe that they have any special developmental potential.
But Dufry also wants to diversify its business model from a different perspective. In addition to traditional airport operations, the group now also wants to run restaurants and cafés, thereby securing a new source of income. Rossinyol explained that while only 15 to 20 percent of passengers shop at duty-free and premium stores, around a third are looking for a place to eat and drink. Autogrill works as a partner with famous brands such as Burger King, McDonald’s (McDonalds), Starbucks, Shake Shack burger roaster and the Chipotle burrito chain./ngu/AWP/zb/mis
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