WELLINGTON Dec 17 New Zealand online auction
and classified business Trade Me Ltd confirmed on
Monday that its majority shareholder, Australian publisher
Fairfax Media Ltd, is selling its remaining stake.
The company confirmed weekend media reports that debt-laden
Fairfax is offering the 51 percent stake in Trade Me.
It did not give a price but newspaper reports had said it
was for around A$3.05 a share, which would raise about A$600
million ($635 million) to pay down debt.
Trade Me shares closed on Friday at NZ$4.05 in New Zealand
and at A$3.22 in Australia.
Trade Me shares were put on a trading halt until the sale of
the shares was completed.
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.
Fairfax paid NZ$700 million ($593 million) for Trade Me in
2006. 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.
Fairfax shares closed at 51 Australian cents on Friday.