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Dufry Buys Remaining Stake In Hellenic Duty Free

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Swiss travel retailer Dufry said it was buying the 49 percent stake in Hellenic Duty Free (HDF) it does not already own from Greek rival Folli Follie for EUR€328 million (USD$452 million), a vote of confidence in the austerity-hit economy.

Dufry bought a controlling 51 percent stake in the Greek travel retailer in October 2012 for EUR€200.5 million, with an option to acquire the remaining 49 percent in 2016.

Dufry said in a statement on Thursday the operation had contributed CHF274 million Swiss francs (USD$309.3 million) to group revenue between April and September. It expects to achieve an incremental EUR€10 million in synergies thanks to the deal.

Dufry will pay for the remaining stake with a combination of EUR€175 million in cash and 1,231,233 ordinary shares, valued at EUR€153 million, that Dufry will issue to Folli Follie Group from its authorized capital.

Folli Follie Group will join a group of shareholders led by Travel Retail Investments. Dufry has agreed to nominate George Koutsolioutsos for election to the board at next year's annual shareholders' meeting, Dufry said.

Dufry said it is planning to refurbish and expand retail space at key airports in Greece, where HDF generates more than 80 percent of the turnover of its 111 shops with international visitors, mainly from Britain and Germany.

The transaction will allow the full financial integration of HDF, with benefits in cash management and a reduction in yearly financing costs of CHF10 million francs on a comparable basis, Dufry said.

Dufry said it had entered into a new EUR€500 million term loan with a group of banks for a duration of five years to finance the cash portion of the deal and to repay EUR€335 million of HDF's debts with local banks in Greece.

(Reuters)

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