French Adtech Firm Criteo  Attracts Takeover Interest

Criteo SA, the French advertising technology firm, is attracting takeover interest from strategic and financial investors, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The U.S.-listed company has received approaches from suitors in the past few months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

There’s no certainty the potential buyers will proceed with firm offers, the people said. A representative for Paris-based Criteo declined to comment.

Criteo’s American depositary receipts rose Wednesday after the company reported fourth-quarter results that beat estimates. After jumping as much as 42%, they closed up 18% to $28.93 in New York, giving the company a market value of about $1.9 billion.

The boom in e-commerce activity has boosted Criteo over the past year. The company makes money observing people’s behavior while using web browsers or apps to determine advertisements they are likely to respond to. It then charges the advertiser when someone clicks on the ad.

Criteo has attracted interest before. WPP Plc came close to buying the company in 2017, before Apple Inc.’s move to reinforce online data privacy on its Safari web browser hurt its business, Bloomberg News has reported.

Advertising Changes

Targeted advertisers have been grappling over the past few years with changes to what customer data they are allowed to track.

Dominant digital advertising platforms like Alphabet Inc. and Apple are ending support for third-party cookies, small files that track users as they browse the internet. Part of Criteo’s business was interpreting these cookies.

While Criteo has been impacted by these changes, it is still well-positioned since it’s been developing alternative models, according to Berenberg analyst Sarah Simon.

“We think Criteo’s scale and technology investments position it well to navigate this latest period of transition, whereas smaller ad tech vendors may struggle,” Simon said in a note in January.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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