| PERTH, Australia
PERTH, Australia Dec 16 Australian publisher
Fairfax Media Ltd is selling its remaining stake in New
Zealand online auction and classified business Trade Me Ltd
for about A$600 million ($635 million) to pay down
debt, newspapers reported on Sunday.
The Australian Financial Review newspaper, owned by Fairfax,
reported that investment bank UBS is offering the 51 percent
stake in Trade Me to institutions at around A$3.05 a share. The
newspaper did not detail its source.
Trade Me shares closed at A$3.22 on the Australian
Securities Exchange on Friday.
Fairfax spokesman Brad Hatch declined to comment.
Fairfax, Australia's oldest media firm, publishes 400
metropolitan, regional and suburban newspapers and magazines and
owns radio stations.
Under massive pressure to reduce debt, the publisher has
sold stakes in profitable online ventures over the past year, as
they are considered the easiest parts of the business to sell.
The company slashed the value of its newspaper titles by
almost $3 billion in late August as it posted a steep fall in
profit and said it saw no early turnaround in the worst
advertising conditions in more than 30 years.
In New Zealand, Trade Me Group Ltd boasts 2.5 million
members in a nation of 4 million.
Fairfax paid NZ$700 million ($593 million) for Trade Me in
2006, the newspaper said. It sold down one third of its stake in
an initial public offering in December 2011 and subsequently cut
its stake further to 51 percent earlier this year.
"It is believed the opportunity to capitalise on Trade Me's
strong market performance is one of the main reasons for the
sale," the Australian Financial Review reported.
Fairfax shares closed at 51 Australian cents on Friday.
(Editing by MIchael Perry)