Guardian publisher and private equity firm sell off £200m of shares in media company

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Guardian Media Group publishes the Guardian and Observer newspapers (Source: Getty)

The publisher of the Guardian and a private equity firm have cashed in £200m of shares in business media firm Ascential.

The company, which publishes magazines and owns the Cannes Lions Festival, first floated on the London Stock Exchange earlier this year.

Read more: Guardian newspaper losses accelerate amid industry's advertising struggles

The loss-making Guardian Media Group (GMG) and Apax today announced they had sold another 80m shares at 250p each, reducing their combined stake from around 60 per cent to 40 per cent.

GMG's stake has been reduced from 22 per cent to 14.9 per cent, making £60m, and Apax's from 37 per cent to 24.8 per cent.

As a result of the move, which was run by Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, GMG chief executive David Pemsel and Apax’s Tom Hall have stepped down from the Ascential board.

Ascential chairman Scott Forbes said:

I would like to thank Tom and David for their contribution to Ascential both prior to our successful initial public offering this past February and during the six-month transition period following. The company has recruited and established a strong and fully code-compliant board which consisted of an independent non-executive chairman, two executive directors and four independent non-executive directors. The board is now fully established andwell positioned to lead the governance and strategic direction of the company for the benefit of the shareholders.

Read more: Minister: The Guardian, not Rupert Murdoch, lobbied to clip BBC wings

Apax and GMG said in a statement:

The Apax entities and GMG will remain significant shareholders of the company and have every confidence that the Board and management will continue to execute in line with the company's stated strategy and manage the company in the best interests of all shareholders.

The £60m is a boost to GMG, which recently reported a total loss of £173m in its 2015/16 financial year.

Ascential's share price, which closed at 265p on Wednesday, has fallen four per cent on Thursday to 254.7p.