Trade Me acquired by private equity firm

After courting several offers of acquisition, and delaying the exit of its chief executive, New Zealand online marketplace Trade Me has announced it has entered into an agreement with Apax Partners, which will see the private equity group purchase 100 per cent of Trade Me shares.

Apax will pay NZ$6.45 per share ($6.15 per share) for the acquisition, representing a 27 per cent premium on the business’s average weighted price as of November 20, 2018, and an implied equity value of NZ$2.56 billion ($2.44 billion).

Trade Me chairman David Kirk pointed out that Apax’s offer had been increased since the initial indicative proposal, and that the board concluded taking the offer would deliver maximum value for shareholders.

“We’re confident Trade Me would have a successful standalone future, but we believe the certainty of the cash offer and material premium would be an attractive outcome and it merits being put to shareholders with our recommendation, in the absence of a superior proposal,” Kirk said.

Subject to an independent advisers report finding the offer is within or above its valuation range, the Trade Me board is unanimously recommending that shareholders vote for the acquisition, with the vote set to take place in April 2019.

Should the scheme be approved, it is expected to be implemented in the second quarter of 2019.

It was announced earlier this week that chief executive Jon Macdonald would stay on at the business past the end of 2018 in order to help facilitate the takeover proposals.

Macdonald had initially intended to step down after 15 years at the business in December 2018.

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