Classified Ventures exploring $3 bln sale of Cars.com-WSJ

March 9 Sun Mar 9, 2014 6:04pm EDT

March 9 (Reuters) - Classified Ventures LLC, a joint venture of five media companies, has put its online listings business Cars.com up for sale at a price of up to $3 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the plans.

Classified Ventures has retained investment bank Moelis & Co as an adviser on the potential sale and is in talks with potential bidders that are expected to include private equity firms as well as strategic investors, the Journal reported on its website, citing the unidentified people.

One of the publishers that control Classified Ventures could decide to buy the others out of Cars.com, the Journal added. The Classified Ventures shareholders are A. H. Belo Corp, Gannett Co Inc, McClatchy Co, Tribune Co and Graham Holdings Co.

A spokeswoman for Classified Ventures and a spokesman for Cars.com did not immediately respond to requests for comment while a Moelis spokeswoman declined to comment.

Classified Ventures was established in 1997 as a partnership to help newspaper publishers expand their position in online classified advertising in the automotive, rentals and real estate sectors. A sale of Cars.com would effectively mark the unwinding of that partnership.

Last week, Classified Ventures said it would sell its other major remaining asset, online property business Apartments.com, for $585 million to CoStar Group Inc in a deal in which it was also advised on by Moelis.