Hungarian online retail site Shopline.hu, the Central European country’s local equivalent to Amazon and operator of online book sales platform Bookline.hu, which also has its own e-book operation, is currently the subject of a takeover bid by investment fund SQ-Invest, which owns Libri, one of Hungary’s largest bricks-and-mortar bookstore chains.
If the deal gets regulatory approval, it will create a Hungarian book trade giant, with print and digital arms.
According to Shopline’s Budapest Stock Exchange information page…
“at present, nearly 80% of its turnover comes from the sale of new books, while the sale of used books accounts for the remaining 20%. The shops leased by Bookline.hu for the purpose of delivering personal orders have also been selling books in the traditional way since March 2006. “
SQ-Invest Kft. has made a mandatory public purchase offer for all of Shopline’s publicly traded shares, although the final merger must be approved by Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH).
Full details on the SQ-Invest offer are available in Hungarian here.
Hungarian news sources state that the bid is the latest stage in a friendly merger process planned by SQ-Invest and Shopline’s 95.01 percent owner Central European Media and Publishing (CEMP), which also owns a number of other important online, print and broadcast media assets.
This comes as the sequel to an earlier transaction announced in May, giving Shopline 100 percent ownership of Libri, while the public purchase offer should eventually give SQ-Invest a 67.7 percent stake in Shopline.
Shopline evolved out of Bookline, which was originally founded in 1999. Both companies are currently loss-making, although Libri appears to have a smaller loss than Shopline.
It remains to be seen how robust the new merged entity will be, if its formation is approved.