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Dufry to Acquire Control of World Duty Free From Benettons

Published on Mar 30 2015 6:00 AM in General Industry

Dufry to Acquire Control of World Duty Free From Benettons

Switzerland’s Dufry AG agreed to buy a majority stake in Italian airport retailer World Duty Free SpA for €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) to expand globally. Edizione Srl, a holding company controlle...

Switzerland’s Dufry AG agreed to buy a majority stake in Italian airport retailer World Duty Free SpA for €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) to expand globally.

Edizione Srl, a holding company controlled by the Benetton family, and its investment vehicle Schematrentaquattro SpA agreed to sell the 50.1 per cent stake for 10.25 euros a share, according to an e-mailed statement from 28 March. The price represents a premium of about 22 per cent on the volume-weighted average share price in the past six months, according to the statement.

The closing of the sale, expected in the third quarter, is subject to the approval by Dufry’s shareholders of a capital increase aimed at partially financing the transaction and the approval of antitrust authorities. Dufry will then start a mandatory bid for the rest of the shares at the same price, which gives World Duty Free an enterprise value of €3.6 billion.

Acquiring World Duty Free, which operates stores at airports including London’s Heathrow and Gatwick, would create a business with a 24 per cent market share in airport retail. Dufry chief executive officer Julian Diaz has expanded the Swiss company through about a dozen acquisitions in the past decade, creating a dominant operator in the field of travel retailing. It acquired Hudson News, a chain of US airport shops, in 2008.

World Duty Free operates 495 stores in 19 countries and 98 airports across the world, according to its website. The Benetton family has held a controlling 50.1 per cent stake since the company was spun off from Autogrill SpA and began trading independently in 2013. The two companies combined would have had 2014 sales of more than $8 billion.

The Swiss company was in advanced talks to acquire World Duty Free, people familiar with the matter said in February, asking not to be identified because the talks were private. Other potential bidders had included Korean competitor Lotte, people said in January.

Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland

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