Dufry swallows Autogrill and massively expands its operations in the US

The news was a real bang. The world’s largest group of Dufry duty-free shops from Switzerland wants to take over the Italian operator of Autogrill petrol stations for 1.8 billion euros. The merger is expected to create one of the world’s largest travel retail companies.

Rumors have been going around for a long time

There has long been speculation about a possible merger. Speculation has intensified over the past few weeks. It was also due to a strategic change in the Edizione holding company controlled by the Benetton family. Autogrill’s most important shareholder, with over 50% of shares, is to support the transaction and become the largest owner of the new company. Edizione will have a stake of 20-25%, depending on how many Autogrill investors accept the offer.

Who is actually behind Dufry?

Before we go into the details of the acquisition, I would like to introduce you to the Swiss group of Dufry. The company is the world’s leading operator of airport retail outlets. Dufry has branches in more than 60 countries around the world and operates more than 2,300 duty-free shops, boutiques and specialty stores at airports, on cruise ships and many other tourist destinations.

The company offers its customers over 50,000 products from over 1,000 different suppliers, including the luxury brands Bulgari, Calvin Klein, Dior and Gucci. Currently, Dufry generates approximately 40% of its revenues in America with a focus on Brazil.

Dufry bets EUR 1.8 billion on the table

Now Dufry is offering Autogrill shareholders 0.158 new Dufra shares for each Autogrill share certificate. Alternatively, you have the option to accept a cash offer of EUR 6.33 per share certificate. The Italian group is valued at 1.8 billion euros. Contrary to popular belief, Autogrill is no longer just a petrol station operator. In 2021, 39% of sales were still made at motorway stops, 55% were generated at airports, mainly in the US.

Business with airports in sight

The merger will create the world’s largest group in the tourism industry with a turnover of EUR 12 billion. In total, the new company should operate more than 5,500 stores at 1,200 airports in 60 countries and generate a gross profit of EUR 1.3 billion.

Above all, Autogrill’s Object of Desire offers Dufry a strong position in the US airport industry. This is considered particularly lucrative as many airlines no longer offer their passengers anything to eat on domestic flights. So travelers buy supplies at the airport, as do train passengers in Europe. Thanks to Autogrill, Dufry plans to create only points of sale where passengers will be able to both shop and eat.

Everything from a single source

Moreover, Dufry sees himself in a better position for future tenders. You Need To Know: Many US airport operators want a single point of contact that is available for multiple services. This includes duty-free and duty-free retail, grab-and-take formats and real-world restaurants, and may in the future be offered by Dufry from a single source. To date, Dufry has solved this problem through numerous partnerships. Both companies also assume that the merger will bring about annual synergies of approximately EUR 85 million.

Planned deletion of Autogrill shares from the stock exchange

Autogrill’s share price fell significantly after the offering and was traded at EUR 6.32 yesterday. Dufry intends to finalize the acquisition in the first quarter of 2023. A takeover bid for de-listing will then be made to the remaining minority shareholders of Autogrill.

However, the transaction is not a certain success. Several regulators still need to approve the transaction. Dufry himself will convene an extraordinary general meeting on August 31, which will decide on the merger.

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