TradeMe halts trade of shares as impending sell off looms

TradeMe has halted trading of its stock this morning according to a statement made on the NZX, following news over the weekend of its upcoming sale by owner Fairfax Media. 

TradeMe says the online auction site has received notice from Fairfax it is to be sold, and has requested a stop in stock trade until a book building of its shares has been completed. 

Australian company Fairfax, which owns Stuff.co.nz, The Dominion Post, and The Press, is selling its majority stake in TradeMe to pay down the struggling newspaper business' AU$815 million in debts, according to Australian media.

The Australian Financial Reviewreports that Fairfax has brought Swiss investment bank UBS on board to sell its remaining 51 percent of TradeMe shares to institutional investors. 

Fairfax purchased TradeMe in 2006 for NZ$700 million from its founder Sam Morgan, and other private investors.  In December 2011, Fairfax listed a third of TradeMe on the ASX and NZX, raising more than AU$300 million. A further 15 percent was floated in June of this year.

Selling its stake now at a reported $3.05 per share, will net the media company around AU$600 million (NZ$750 million), reducing its current debt to AU$215 million.

Fairfax has been in debt reduction mode since last year. In June 2012, Fairfax announced it was cutting 1,900 jobs and closing two printing plants in Australia, a move which the company says will eventuate in AU$200 million in savings. 

The Sydney Morning Herald, a Fairfax masthead, says further details of the sale will be revealed today. 

More information as this story develops.