Groupon selling controlling stake in Ticket Monster

SHARE Groupon selling controlling stake in Ticket Monster

CHICAGO — Online daily deal service Groupon is selling its controlling stake in Ticket Monster to a partnership formed by KKR and Anchor Equity Partners for $360 million.

Groupon purchased Ticket Monster, a South Korean online ticket seller, in January 2014 from LivingSocial Inc. in a $260 million cash-and-stock transaction.

As part of the deal with KKR and Anchor Equity, Groupon will receive $285 million in cash, while Ticket Monster will get the remaining amount. Groupon said it plans to use proceeds from the sale of the 46 percent stake for general corporate purposes and stock buybacks.

“As the Korean market developed, it became obvious that Ticket Monster would benefit from additional resources and local expertise in its drive to be the leading social commerce company in Korea,” Groupon CEO Eric Lefkofsky said in a statement.

Anchor Equity is based in Hong Kong. KKR has offices in the U.S. and abroad, including Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing and Singapore.

Groupon said Monday that it will still have a 41 percent stake in Ticket Monster after the transaction is complete.

The deal is targeted to close in the second quarter.

Groupon said that due to the Ticket Monster transaction — and changes in foreign currency exchange rates — it now foresees first-quarter adjusted earnings between a penny and 3 cents per share and revenue in a range of $720 million to $770 million. Its prior outlook was for adjusted earnings between breakeven and two cents per share and revenue in a range of $790 million to $840 million.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect earnings of a penny per share on revenue of $822.4 million.

In addition, Groupon Inc. said that its board has approved a new $300 million stock buyback. The repurchase program is subject to the closing of the Ticket Monster transaction. The new buyback is expected to start when the Ticket Monster deal closes and run through August 2017.

Chicago-based Groupon said that it anticipates still making repurchases under its existing $300 million stock buyback, which had $83 million of authorized repurchases remaining as of March 31. That program is set to expire in August.

Shares of Groupon gained 35 cents, or 4.9 percent, to $7.55 before the market open.

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