The German start-up investor Klaus Hommels is negotiating with his listed company Lakestar SPAC I about the purchase of the Berlin holiday home platform Hometogo. Personal-Financial.com learned this from financial circles. With the takeover, Lakestar would bring the company, which was founded in 2014, to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Because the company shell is a so-called Special Purpose Acquisition Company (Spac) that went public with the purpose of looking for and buying another company. For Hometogo it would be a quick way to hit the floor.
The fund signed a non-binding letter of intent to buy some time ago, they say. Since then, the Lakestar-Spac and the start-up management have been negotiating the terms of the merger. The targeted valuation should be around 1 billion euros.
An ambitious assessment – after all, the corona pandemic has affected Hometogo like many other travel start-ups. Offers for holiday apartments can be compared via the platform. According to the annual financial statements, the company achieved sales of EUR 73 million in 2019. The company was also able to grow slightly in the Corona year 2020, especially last summer the demand for holiday apartments rose sharply because customers preferred the offer to a hotel, according to financial circles.
Compared to the general travel market, the slight growth is a good result; the current easing could also provide a tailwind. In addition, the management team around Patrick Andrä, Wolfgang Heigl and Nils Regge has a good reputation in the scene.
In the long term, there is a strategic risk for Hometogo: As a meta search engine, it connects the portals of holiday home providers with customers. What can happen in the worst case can be seen in the former model company Trivago, which offers a meta search engine for hotel rooms. Because it is primarily dependent on the companies Booking.com and Expedia on the supply side, the Düsseldorf provider has been struggling with problems for years. Sales have been shrinking since 2017 and the stock market price has collapsed.
The difference with Hometogo: With the search engine, the Berlin company aggregates a fragmented market and is therefore not dependent on a few large players. “The greatest danger comes from Airbnb,” says Christian Saller from HV Personal-Financial.com, whose company is invested in many travel start-ups and who knows the market well. The American company could take an increasingly strong position in the vacation home market. “However, the market consolidation will not come so quickly and the home logo management will continue to develop the product during this time,” believes the industry expert.
Hometogo will now be more in the spotlight on the stock exchange. Investor Klaus Hommels is meanwhile well acquainted with the takeover target: with his fund he has a stake of almost four percent in Hometogo and financed the development phase.
Critics could reproach him with the fact that he was making an exit in his own portfolio in this way. As a minority owner, Lakestar has only limited influence on management decisions, according to the company. The Spac shareholders also have to approve the deal. It is usually part of the sale that institutional investors inject more money into the company, the so-called pipe investment. The closing is expected in the coming weeks.
Since this is the first German Spac deal, the transaction should cause a stir. At first, Hometogo and Lakestar did not want to comment on the plans. Late on Friday morning, Lakestar SPAC I SE finally confirmed the negotiations with the travel start-up in an ad hoc announcement.
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Transparency notice: The article has been expanded to include the information that an ad hoc report has been sent.