Auto Trader was expected to be one of Britain’s hot IPOs, but now its plans could be stalled with a takeover bid from San Francisco-based private equity firm Hellman & Friedman for 2 billion pounds or $3 billion, as reported by the Financial Times. Auto Trader is the go-to place in the U.K. online for used cars, and is owned by Apax, which purchased the remaining 50% of the company from the Guardian Media Group in 2014.
Apax still has Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch to work on the IPO, where it might still sell 30% of the business, but now it seems an IPO and a sale could be run simultaneously. This isn’t the first online used car dealership Hellman & Friedman has invested in. The firm owns Scout24, the German equivalent of Auto Trader, and the firm may combine the two companies and spin off the business.
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The IPO market has been a volatile one, with a huge heat up last summer and a cooling off towards the autumn. Apax might do with Auto Trader what it did in the case of Travelex, which was expected to have gotten a listing, but was sold to Indian-born entrepreneur Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty.
Hellman & Friedman have been raising money for its buyouts to the tune of 11 billion last year, which is the largest amount raised in many years.