A British investment company is lining up to make a bid for the country's biggest online marketplace Trade Me.
Apax Partners has made a non-binding, indicative bid of $6.40 a share for all of Trade Me, valuing the company at more than $2.5 billion.
"The Board of Trade Me, together with its advisers, has reviewed the indicative proposal and has decided to engage with Apax. Trade Me has provided Apax with due diligence access on an exclusive basis until 12 December to facilitate a binding offer," Trade Me said in a statement to the Stock Exchange.
Trade Me said there was no guarantee that Apax will end up making a bid, and it's telling shareholders not to take any action with advice.
Trade Me shares have surged nearly a dollar, or 19 percent, this morning.
Trade Me was founded by in 1999 by a group of young entrepreneurs and technology experts, including Sam Morgan, which sold out to Australian publishing firm Fairfax in 2006 for $700m. Fairfax six years later floated Trade Me on the sharemarket.
Trade Me is the country's biggest online site, offering consumers the chance to buy and sell items, along with advertising for jobs, cars, insurance, and property.
It reported a record annual profit of nearly $97m, with revenue increasing about 7 percent, and gave an upbeat earnings outlook.
Apax is a British- based company with investments in technology, consumer, healthcare and service sector businesses.
It specialises in taking stakes in or buying out companies, where it looks to to maximise value and then sell out at a profit.