Guardian Media Group (GMG), the publisher of the Guardian and Observer newspapers in the UK, has agreed to acquire the 52 per cent of the equity of Trader Media Group (TMG) it did not already own from private equity firm BC Partners and TMG management. The transaction values the business at £1.14bn.
According to a statement GMG, which for the past twelve months has been linked with a possible move for control over TMG, has agreed to pay £593m for the remaining shares. Prior to this agreement, GMG owned 48 per cent of the business, funds advised by BC Partners 46.8 per cent, and management 5.2 per cent.
BC Partners acquired its Trader Media stake in 1998 for £260m from Auto Trader founder John Madejski, with debt financing provided by Deutsche Bank. Auto Trader, TMG’s leading title, is published in 13 regional editions in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, with a weekly circulation of 340,000. In total, TMG has 70 publications, including Ad Trader, Auto Freeway, Bike Trader and Top Marques. It operates operations in Italy, Holland and South Africa.
Trader Media has 4,000 staff, 70 titles and a profitable online arm. Last year it made an operating profit of £98.2m on £256m sales.
“Since BC Partners first invested in Trader Media Group in 1998 the company has developed strongly,” said Simon Palley, managing partner at BC Partners, said in the statement. “Important milestones in the past five years include the merger with GMG’s AutoTrader division in May 2000, the acquisition of the TNT magazine group in October 2000, moving all titles to full colour, and significant investment in the website autotrader.co.uk.”