Dutch privately-owned online retailer Wehkamp.nl is up on sale and has attracted interest from several parties. Rumors and "internal sources" claim companies such as Amazon.com and their Dutch rival Bol.com are interested. Most probably a new owner could be the Dutch food retailer Albert Heijn, who is lacking a successful non-food strategy. The fact is that the online commerce market is closely following the upcoming auction. How much will Wehkamp.nl be worth?
Rumors confirmed, they are for sale
In the early 2010 Reuters already announced a bidding book was being prepared, which was soon to be denied by the current owners. Wehkamp.nl, whose product range includes Levi's and Calvin Klein clothing as well as lesser-known brands, computers, and furniture, is owned by RFS Holland Holding B.V.
Since mid December, three years after the current owners bought it, it's clear Wehkamp.nl is for sale. Investors can show their interest up to the end of January. Besides Ahold private equity firms like Carlyle, CVC and PAI seem to be interested.
Wehkamp.nl the biggest Dutch online store
Wehkamp.nl is with a year turnover of € 423 million the biggest Dutch e-commerce shop according to the Twinkle100. They are followed by Bol.com (€ 318 million) and Albert.nl (Ahold, € 109 million). An acquisition of Wehkamp.nl by Ahold would make it by far the biggest consumer focused online retailer.
An auction will decide about the price
Interested buyers have to send their initial bid by January 31st. It's unclear what bidders are willing to offer. Analysts claim it will be less than € 600 million, although some people claim Wehkamp.nl could be worth up to € 750 million. According to Reuters Wehkamp was sold three years ago for about € 500 million, but this has not been confirmed.
The auction among interested and qualified bidders will show. But whatever happens, it's clear the online retail market is closely following this bid, because it could show a trend in the market and will be a benchmark for other upcoming deals.