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Trade Me set to get traded

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Fairfax Media has confirmed that it is selling up to 35 percent of its stake in New Zealand online auction site Trade Me.

The media giant says it intendes to launch an IPO on the New Zealand stock exchange and possible the ASX, subject to financial market conditions.

Should the public offer take place Trade Me would emerge as a stand-alone, New Zealand stock exchange listed company. The successful online site was acquired by Fairfax in 2007 for around NZ$750 million.

The trans-Tasman media group hopes to raise between NZ$350 million and $525 million based on recent market valuations of the eBay-esque asset.

The architect of the original purchase of the company former Fairfax CEO David Kirk, has resurfaced to assist with the process and operate as a non-executive chairman of the company

"Fairfax will continue to benefit from the strong growth profile of Trade Me and through a shareholding of at least 65 per cent," chief executive Greg Hywood said.

The company flagged its intention to sell the asset in June, after a punishing season of eroding advertising sales across the group.

At the time it said that it was considering offloading New Zealands’s biggest online auction site as part of a wider strategic review of its group assets.

Australian analysts differ on estimates on Trade Me’s current valuation, Morgan Stanley said in June that it could be worth between $AU1.1 billion to $AU1.3 billion, while Deutsche Bank said Fairfax could realise $AU391 million by floating 50 percent of Trade Me. ®

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