Groupon Inc. (GRPN), the operator of a daily deal website, saw its stock get a lift in pre-market trading after a report said the company is pulling out all the stops to find a buyer.
Citing two people briefed on the matter, Recode reported that executives at Groupon as well as its bankers have been reaching out to public companies during the past month to find a suitor for the Chicago-based company, which is seen as a leader in the once burgeoning market for daily deals and discounts. While Groupon has expressed openness to selling itself in the past, Recode noted this time around executives and bankers are courting would-be buyers more aggressively. It's not clear if its efforts have proved successful, noted Recode. Nor is it clear what is behind the latest push to sell the company. (See more: Groupon Stock Declines Sharply, but Is It an Overreaction?)
Recently shares of Groupon were trading up 12.6% at $4.91 a share in pre-market action. The stock finished Friday’s trading session down 0.46% at $4.36 a share.
Groupon Was Once Valued at More Than $16B
When Groupon went public in 2011, the second-largest IPO for a technology company at the time according to Recode, it had a market value of more than $16 billion. That made its move in 2010 to fend off a $6 billion offer from Google appear smart. But since then, Groupon’s value has plummeted as daily deals lost their luster with consumers and businesses. The company now has a market value of $2.4 billion, says Recode. In 2016 it acquired rival LivingSocial for nothing. Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) closed its own daily deal business back in 2015.
With revenue falling during the past several months, Groupon has been shifting its focus away from selling products for a discounted price and focusing on its core business of offering digital vouchers to get discounts at local and national businesses. While revenue in 2017 was down 5.6% on a year-over-year basis, Redcode noted it had an operating profit, something it had not achieved since 2014.
Alibaba A Potential Suitor?
So who could potentially acquire the pioneer of the daily deal space? According to Recode potential suitors include Alibaba (BABA), the Chinese Internet giant, and IAC/Interactive Corp. (IAC). In 2016 Alibaba acquired a close to 6% stake in Groupon and IAC Chief Executive Joey Levin is on the Groupon board. (See more:Why Alibaba’s Stock Can Soar 44% Despite a Trade War)