Guardian-owner ends talks on Auto Trader sale-FT

LONDON Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:29pm EST

LONDON Jan 24 (Reuters) - The publisher of Britain's Guardian and Observer newspapers has ended talks on selling its stake in Trader Media Group because the price offered fell short of expectations, the Financial Times said on Thursday.

Trader Media Group, which owns the Auto Trader classified cars sales website and magazine, is a joint venture between Guardian Media Group (GMG) and private venture company Apax, and its profits help offset operating losses at GMG's newspapers.

The Financial Times, citing two people with knowledge of the offer, said Apax had been interested in buying GMG's 50.1 percent stake at a price that valued the group at about 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion), including net debt of 600 million pounds.

That fell short of GMG's expectations, it said.

GMG's talks with other private equity investors have also ended, the FT said. Groups including Hellman & Friedman and KKR have been reportedly been interested.

A spokesman for GMG declined to comment. Apax officials were not available for comment.