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Car trader to float at £2bn

Online car market firm Auto Trader is preparing a London stock market listing which will value it at £2bn, making it the biggest offering in the capital this year. Confirmation of the float is likely to dampen speculation that other private equity firms will approach owner Apex Partners with a takeover bid. Apax took full control of Auto Trader last year after purchasing the 50% stake owned by Guardian Media Group for £61m, valuing the company at £1.75bn, including debt. Auto Trader works with 80% of all franchise and independent UK retailer forecourts and owns significant amounts of valuable proprietary data on car ownership in Britain. The company said that it would use funds raised from the float and a new debt facility to repay its debt, including the repayment of two shareholder loans to Apax. In the year to last March the company generated revenue of £237.7m with underlying pre-tax earnings of £136.1m.

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