5 Dec 2018

Second bidder emerges for NZ's biggest online marketplace Trade Me

10:53 am on 5 December 2018

A US company has made a non-binding indicative bid of 5 cents a share more than the first bidder for the country's biggest online marketplace, Trade Me.

Trade Me website

Trade Me website Photo: RNZ

A second potential bidder has emerged for online marketplace Trade Me.

US investment company Hellman and Friedman has made a non-binding indicative bid of $6.45 a share for all of Trade Me.

That trumps a non-binding offer of $6.40 from British investor Apax Partners made last month.

Apax is taking a detailed look at Trade Me's operations and finances, known as due diligence, but Trade Me has the ability to engage with other bidders.

"The Board has decided that it is in the interests of Trade Me and consistent with its fiduciary obligations to also engage with Hellman & Friedman on the new proposal," Trade Me directors said in a statement to stock exchange.

Apax has until the middle of next week to complete its study, and the new bidder has said it also wants to do a similar exercise.

"The Board notes that there is no certainty either proposal will result in an offer, or any other transaction, for Trade Me," the directors said.

Hellman and Friedman is a San Francisco based private equity fund, which specialises in debt funded buyouts and has a wide range of investments in media, financial services, professional services and information services.

Trade Me shares rose nearly 2 percent in early trading 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 share market.

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.

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