TrueCar raises over $200 million in debt, equity
* Company plans to use proceeds for acquisitions
* Backers include Allen & Co LLC, GSV, Silicon Valley Bank
* Company expects IPO first half of 2012
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 7 (Reuters) - TrueCar, a company that provides car-sales prices to consumers, has raised over $200 million in debt and equity financing to use for acquisitions and growth, the company said.
The transaction underscores continuing investor enthusiasm for companies that allow consumers to find good buys using the Internet. Daily-deals site Groupon has 115 million subscribers, although it is delaying its $750 million initial public offering.
"We are effectively Groupon for cars," TrueCar chief executive officer Scott Painter told Reuters. He said it would be difficult for Groupon or any other site to replicate TrueCar's business because of the complexity involved in collecting all the car-sales data that TrueCar provides.
TrueCar has raised about half its funds in debt and half in equity, Painter said.
Its new equity comes from backers including GR Match, McCombs Family Partners, and DealerTrack, Keating Capital, GSV Asset Management, Passport Capital, International Investment House and Allen & Company LLC.
Silicon Valley Bank arranged the debt portion of the funding for TrueCar, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif.
The company is gearing up for an initial public offering in the first half of next year, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
TrueCar.com allows consumers to check prices in their area for specific makes and models of cars. Its sister site, ClearBook.com, provides the same service for used cars.
Instead of relying on advertising for revenue, TrueCar takes a cut of the sale when its referral leads to a sale.
A spokesman declined to disclose revenue, but said TrueCar is profitable. Earlier this year, it acquired data-provider ALG, or Automotive Lease Guide, for an undisclosed sum. It also acquired Carperks, an automotive-purchasing and leasing company, for an undisclosed sum.
TrueCar also provides white-label online car purchasing services to partners such as credit card company American Express (AXP.N), car-services provider AAA and insurance-provider USAA. The company said it has driven 350,000 sales since its founding in 2005, including 20,000 last month.
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