Duty-Free Giant Dufry Agrees to Acquire Autogrill

Image Credit: iStock, Baloncici

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With the travel industry making a strong rebound this year, one tourism-adjacent mega-merger is cleared for takeoff.

On Monday, Swiss-based duty-free retailer Dufry announced plans to acquire Autogrill, the Italian food-service company synonymous with rest stops dotting highways between Naples, Milan, and beyond. Unfortunately for Dufry, the deal will presumably be executed in some taxable jurisdiction or another.

Now Serving Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

The takeover will take two legs to complete. First, Dufry will acquire the 50.3% stake of Autogrill controlled by the billionaire Benetton family, its leading shareholder. Afterward, Dufry will make a tender offer for the rest of Autogrill in a deal that values the company at either €2 billion or €2.2 billion, depending if shareholders opt for Dufry stock or cash. The Benetton’s will ultimately end up with about a 25% stake in the combined business.

Together, the companies aim to become the go-to shop stop for on-the-move travelers:

  • The new company will combine Dufry’s 1,700 airport locations in over 60 countries with Autogrill’s 3,500 roadside, train station, and airport outlets in over 30 countries. The new-look Dufry, now primarily Euro-centric, will continue to build its presence in the US, Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
  • The tie-up will presumably lower operational costs where the two companies already have significant overlap — primarily in Europe and North America — and could help the new conglomerate negotiate favorable rents, purchasing prices, and logistical costs, according to one Bloomberg Intelligence industry analyst.

Family Fortune: It’s the second major deal this year for the Benetton family. In June, through their Edizione holding company, the family teamed up with Blackstone to take the highway operator business Atlantia SpA private, upping their stake from around 30% to 65% in a bid that valued the company at around €54 billion. Suffice to say, the Benettons have plenty of cause for a celebratory family road trip this summer.