Guardian Media Group to Divest Holding in Trader Media
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Guardian Media Group plc (GMG), publisher of theguardian.com and the Guardian and Observer newspapers, has signed an agreement to sell its 50.1% stake in Trader Media Group (Trader Media) to its joint venture partner Apax Partners.
The Trader Media disposal, subject to regulatory approval and final completion, forms part of a five-year digital-first strategy that has delivered increasing advertising revenues, improved circulation figures and enhanced investment returns as GMG focuses on its core assets.
Andrew Miller, chief executive officer of GMG, said: “This proposed transaction makes strategic sense as we focus GMG’s activities on award-winning digital and print journalism. On completion, the sale-proceeds will strengthen our balance sheet and position us for further investment and growth in our core business.”
The Scott Trust Limited, the sole shareholder of GMG, has given its full support to the proposed transaction. The Trust has authorised the GMG Board to reinvest the proceeds in order to enable it to continue to safeguard the editorial and financial independence of the Guardian.
Neil Berkett, chair of the GMG Board, said: “Once completed, this deal will make GMG a very well-capitalised media organisation with the financial flexibility to navigate the rapidly-changing media environment, where our flagship titles are proven pioneers of digital and print innovation.”
The proposed sale of GMG’s 50.1% stake follows the group’s disposal in 2007 of a 49.9% stake in Trader Media Group, best-known for its Auto Trader branded website, to Apax. Financial terms for the sale of GMG’s remaining shareholding have not been disclosed.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have advised GMG on the transaction.
Guardian Media Group plc
Group Director of Communications
Guardian Media Group
t: +44 20 3353 3764
t: +44 20 7240 2486
Director of Communications
t: +44 20 7666 6573
Trader Media Group
Adrian Duffield / Kay Larsen
t: +44 20 7457 2020
e: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Notes to Editors
About The Scott Trust Ltd
The ultimate owner of the Guardian is The Scott Trust, which was originally created as a trust in 1936 to safeguard the title’s journalistic freedom. In 2008 it was replaced by a limited company with the same core purpose of the original trust: to secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity, while its subsidiary aims are to champion its principles and to promote freedom of the press in the UK and elsewhere. Other than to cover expense, The Scott Trust takes no dividend from the group’s businesses, whose profits are instead reinvested to sustain journalism that is free from commercial or political interference.
Guardian Media Group is wholly owned by The Scott Trust Ltd, which exists to secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity. GMG’s core business is Guardian News & Media (GNM), publisher of theguardian.com, the third largest English-speaking newspaper website in the world; and the Guardian and The Observer newspapers in the UK. In the financial year ending 31 March 2013, GMG reported the following results:
- Revenue from continuing businesses was £206.8m (2012 £206.3m)
- EBITA from continuing businesses grew to £54.5m (2012 £45.9m)
- Profit before tax improved to £22.7m (2012 (£19.8m) loss)
- Combined cash and investment fund grew to £253.7m (2012 £225.8m)
- GNM revenue was £196.3m (2012 £194.4m)
- GNM digital revenue increased by 28.9% to £55.9m, exceeding the decline in print revenues
- GNM EBITA (£30.9m) loss (2012 £(44.2m) loss), reflecting the success of the continuing five-year transformation plan
About Apax Partners
Apax Partners is one of the world’s leading private equity investment groups. It operates globally and has more than 30 years of investing experience. Funds advised by Apax Partners total over $40 billion around the world and invest in companies across four global sectors of Services, Consumer, Healthcare and Tech & Telecom. These funds provide long-term equity financing to build and strengthen world-class companies. For further information about Apax, please visit www.apax.com.
About Trader Media Group
Trader Media Group operates the UK’s leading website and digital marketplace for motorists. Trader Media Group brands include: Auto Trader, Deltapoint, RAZSOR, 2nd Byte and Autotrade-mail. Auto Trader is the UK’s number one motoring digital marketplace with over 11.5 million monthly unique users, carrying out over 139 million searches on more than 360,000 new and used vehicles. Over 3.5 million people access Auto Trader via mobile devices every month through the mobile-optimised site and apps developed for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Merrill Lynch International (“Bank of America Merrill Lynch”), a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, is acting exclusively for GMG in connection with this transaction and for no one else and will not be responsible to anyone other than GMG for providing the protections afforded to its clients or for providing advice in relation to this transaction.