27 Aug 2011

Public could invest in internet giant Trade Me

11:52 am on 27 August 2011

The public could get the chance to invest in Trade Me after Australian publisher Fairfax Media announced it plans to sell a third of the online auction site.

Fairfax will offer between 30 and 35% of its shares in TradeMe in an effort to reduce debt.

Chief executive Glenn Hywood says the exact timing of the Initial Public Offering will depend on market conditions.

The shares will be listed on the New Zealand exchange and may also be given an ASX listing.

Fairfax bought Trade Me for $700 million from entrepreneur Sam Morgan in 2006 and analysts now value Trade Me at $1 - $1.5 billion. It is restructuring some operations following a profit warning and is looking to sell its metropolitan and regional radio assets.

An advisor on the original sale, Lance Wiggs, says the possible float will attract a lot of new investors into the New Zealand stock exchange.

Mr Wiggs says the initial purchase of the business by Fairfax in 2006, for $700 million, was a great investment for the media giant.

Mr Hywood says Trade Me's growth has been dramatic, driven by its 2.9 million New Zealand members.

Trade Me says it is business as usual while the process gets under way.