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GMG announces refinancing of Trader Media Group debt

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Guardian Media Group plc today announces that Trader Media Group’s debt has been amended and repriced on more favourable terms. This debt was incurred upon the acquisition of the shares that GMG did not already own in Trader Media Group in October 2003. The repricing has been possible due to the continued strong performance of Trader Media Group both in terms of business growth and cost management, Trader Media’s rapid debt repayment over the past 16 months and favourable bank lending market conditions. Trader Media Group has outperformed the financial case forecast at the time of the acquisition.

The facilities substitute the original £514.9 million leveraged facility with a £450 million five-year term corporate facility. The initial margin will be 1.00% above LIBOR (as opposed to the previous rates of between 2.25% and 3.25% above LIBOR). This margin will fall further as leverage reduces. The debt remains “ringfenced” within Trader Media Group and is non-recourse to the rest of GMG.

Barclays Capital and The Royal Bank of Scotland plc have been appointed as Mandated Lead Arrangers and exclusive bookrunners. BNP Paribas, HSBC Bank plc and ING Bank N.V. have been appointed as Mandated Lead Arrangers. Syndication of the repriced facilities has now been completed.

Sir Robert Phillis, Chief Executive of GMG and Chairman of Trader Media Group, said:

“We are very pleased that Trader Media Group’s performance and rapid debt repayment has enabled its debt to be refinanced only sixteen months after we acquired the remaining stake in TMG. The strength of the business has resulted in strong support from our lending banks and the favourable terms we have secured allow both GMG and Trader Media Group to benefit from a significantly reduced interest charge and more flexible lending structure.”

Jerry Fowden, the new Chief Executive of Trader Media Group, said:

“I am delighted that this refinancing provides not only improved terms but gives Trader Media significantly greater freedom and financial flexibility going forward. This refinancing has been particularly enabled through healthy UK publishing performances and continued exceptional growth in New Media. All of Trader Media’s staff should feel proud of the performance of both businesses, and how it has enabled this refinancing”.

Note for editors:

Guardian Media Group is the publisher of The Guardian and The Observer newspapers, Guardian Unlimited, the Manchester Evening News and a portfolio of other regional newspapers in the North West, Surrey and Berkshire. It acquired the 52% stake in Trader Media Group that it did not already own in October 2003. GMG also owns five radio stations under the Real Radio, JazzFM and Smooth FM brands. GMG’s origins date back to 1821 and it is wholly owned by the Scott Trust, which was created in 1936 to secure the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity.

Trader Media Group is the UK’s leading classified advertising publishing group best known for Auto Trader, published in 13 regional titles and selling around 320,000 copies per week, and the website. In addition Trader Media Group publishes over 40 other titles across the UK, Italy, Holland and South Africa, with titles such as Top Marques and Boats and Yachts for Sale.