GMG confirms £1.3bn Trader Media buyout talks

Guardian Media Group has confirmed it is in talks with a number of private equity firms about a possible £1.3 billion buyout of its Trader Media Group division.

Guardian Media Group, the newspaper business chaired by Paul Myners, has confirmed it is in talks about a possible sale of a minority stake in its Trader Media Group division.

GMG issued a statement today in response to speculation that it was looking to sell Trader Media Group, which publishes car magazine Auto Trader. It said it had received “unsolicited approaches from a number of parties interested in acquiring a minority stake in Trader Media Group.”

The Blackstone Group is believed to be one of the firms in talks with GMG. An earlier report in the Financial Times suggested buyout firms Apax and Candover were also interested in the business, which is valued at about £1.3 billion (€1.9 billion; $2.5 billion). All three firms already own assets in the media and publishing sector.

GMG is chaired by Paul Myners, the City grandee who only yesterday criticised big buyout firms – like Apax, Blackstone and Candover – for their lack of transparency, poor record of employment relations and excessive fees.

Myners also told PEO yesterday: “Public company directors when approached by private equity should ask themselves: what can private equity see that our current shareholders cannot; what will private equity do that we cannot do for ourselves? The answers should be quite informing,” he added.

GMG said it had not shelved its original plan to float the division. “Whilst we continue to pursue the IPO route, which remains at this stage the preferred option, we have decided – given the level of interest that has been expressed – to invite a small number of parties to clarify the precise nature, structure and value of their proposals,” the statement said.

Trader Media owns almost 70 titles across Europe, including Auto Trader, Boat Trader and TNT.