Trader Corp., an online car marketplace, is once again up for sale as their private equity parent company is getting ready for their initial public offering or a sale of the company that has already seen several owners throughout the years.
San Francisco-based private equity fund Thoma Bravo LLC is expected to launch an IPO in the next six weeks that would result in the sale of a portion of its stake in Trader, which attracts 16 million monthly visits to websites autoTrader.ca and autoHEBDO.net in Quebec, according to investment banking sources. The private equity fund also said to be willing to sell the entire company if a buyer steps forward, say these sources, who were granted anonymity because they are not authorized to speak about the process. Over the past 14 years, Trader has been, in turn, family-controlled, part of Yellow Pages Ltd. and owned by two private equity funds.
Thoma Bravo recently hired a syndicate of investment banks that includes Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and RBC Capital Markets to advise on the potential IPO or sale, an approach bankers call a dual-track process. Both investment banks previously advised Trader’s owners on transactions and made loans to back its acquisition.
Thoma Bravo focuses on technology investments and acquired Toronto-based Trader in July, 2016, for $1.58-billion from another private equity fund, U.K.-based Apax Partners. The sellers are targeting a valuation for Trader, which bills itself as the country’s leading digital auto marketplace, that is a significant premium to that purchase price. If Trader does go public later this year, it is expected to list its shares on a Canadian and U.S. stock exchange. Spokespeople for Thoma Bravo, Trader, Goldman and RBC declined to comment.
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