Trader Media Group

Trader Media is one of the UK’s largest publishing companies.


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Montagu participated in the £276 million (€442 million) Institutional Buyout of Trader Media in 1998, a transaction that was led by BC Partners.

Trader Media was established in 1976 and by 1998 it had grown to become one of the UK's largest publishing companies. Its principal activity was the publication and production of the Auto Trader titles, as well as various other specialist classified advertising magazines. In total, Trader Media produced 52 publications, with a combined average circulation per issue in excess of 700,000. Its in-house printing and typesetting facilities were critical in enabling it to meet its very tight distribution deadlines.

Auto Trader was the clear market leader in the specialist classified car market in the UK and it commanded 20% of the entire motor publishing segment. There were a number of Auto Trader titles, each covering a different region of the country, and in total they contained approximately 85,000 vehicles for sales each week.

Trader Media had also made good use of the opportunities provided by the web. Its Auto Trader site was one of the most popular websites in the UK, and provided the business with exciting opportunities for cross-selling and additional advertising revenues.

Until 1998, Trader Media was still owned by two of its founders. Both had reduced their day-to-day involvement in the business, and they decided to sell in order to pursue other business interests. A private equity buyer was an attractive solution, because it provided flexibility on structure to meet the vendor's requirements, and it gave the executive management team the opportunity to keep the business independent.

At the time of the buyout, the Auto Trader brand was jointly owned by Trader Media and Guardian Media Group, with each business publishing half of the Auto Trader titles in the UK. In 2000, the Auto Trader business of Guardian Media Group was merged with Trader Media.

In 2003, Guardian Media Group acquired the remainder of Auto Trader in a transaction which returned over 11 times their investment to the private equity investors.

Deal details

Deal type: Management Buyout Investment Year: 1998 Country: United Kingdom Status: Realised Value: £276 million Industry Sector: Consumer Goods & Services, Technology, Media & Telecom