Autotrader floatation on ice: Cloudy future for classified ad revenues

01/04/2011

The classified ad titles of Autotrader were a perfect example of how media created a market place that bought buyers and sellers together. Then came the web, and the model simply didn’t transfer that comfortably. Google made everything discoverable, the barriers to launching a classified ad board collapsed, and Craigslist found a model in giving away almost everything for free. Maybe that’s why the planned £2bn sale of the Guardian Media Group subsidiary ‘Trader media group’ that owns the once unassailable motoring title has gone quiet. Private equity group Apax was lined up to broker the deal that could have even been a flotation rather than a trade sale. Strong implications for any media company that relies on classifieds…

01/04/2011

Yellow Media, a network of companies which includes Yellow Pages Group, announced Friday it is selling its Trader Corp. division for $745-million.

The division owns about 160 print publications and 22 websites in the areas of automotive, real estate and general merchandise and employment. It includes websites such as autotrader.ca and buysell.com.

“This divestiture is attractive for our shareholders and will allow us to deploy capital in our core business, helping accelerate our digital transformation while further strengthening our capital structure,” said CEO Marc P. Tellier.

The deal will see Trader Corp. go to funds advised by Apax Partners, a private equity firm headquartered in London. Yellow Media said the money raised from the sale will be used to pay down debt and for “general corporate purposes.” The company has total liabilities of $3.8-billion at the end of 2010.

Closing of the deal is expected to occur in June 2011, according to the company.

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