Guardian Media Group (GMG) could sell its 50 per cent share in Trader Media Group (TMG) to TMG’s joint owner, the private equity firm Apax Partners, for around £600m, sources confirmed yesterday. TMG owns the successful Auto Trader magazine and listing service, as well as other marketing products for car dealers, and paid out a £100m special dividend last year.
The business continues to do well, in stark contrast to Guardian News & Media, the publisher of the Guardian and Sunday paper the Observer, which saw a £44.2m operating loss in the last financial year.
GMG has just one shareholder, The Scott Trust, and although it will see the Guardian and Observer’s widening losses as a concern, it is not run for profit. It is understood that the company is not in any rush to sell TMG, with it sitting on more than £300m in cash. One source close to the group admitted that TMG will be sold at some point, but put the chances of the current talks ending successfully at 50/50.
GMG has sold other assets in a bid to plug the gaps in the Guardian’s finances, disposing of its radio business, which runs the Smooth and Real stations, to Global Radio for around £70m earlier this year.
GMG did not comment yesterday.