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Fairfax looks for bids on auction site

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Fairfax Media is considering offloading New Zealands’s biggest online auction site Trade Me and has embarked on a wider strategic review of its group assets.

Fairfax made a surprising move in acquiring the online property in 2006 for NZ$750 million.

In a statement to the ASX Fairfax Media confirmed that the strategic review would include the sale of its radio assets.

“Trade Me, like all other assets, is included in the overall review. While all opportunities will be reviewed, contrary to some market speculation, the company has not made any decision on any transaction relating to Trade Me,’ the company said.

Former Fairfax New Zealand CEO Joan Withers has welcomed the sale of the New Zealand asset, particularly if it included a partial float of the business on the New Zealand stock market. "It would be brilliant if New Zealanders get to have a stake in a business that has performed so brilliantly," she said.

Australian analysts differ on estimates on Trade Me’s current valuation, Morgan Stanley said it could be worth between AUD$1.1 billion to $1.3 billion while Deutsche Bank said Fairfax could realise $391 million by floating 50% of Trade Me.

The review follows a warning to the market last month that adverse advertising and market conditions were affecting the Fairfax Group’s overall performance and that the company was embarking on significant rationalisation plans. ®

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