New York-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo LLC agreed to acquire Trader Corp. , Canada’s leading digital automotive marketplace and software solutions provider, from private equity firm Apax Partners LLP for CAD $1.57 billion (US $1.22 billion). The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2016.
Apax Partners acquired Trader in July 2011. During the past five years Trader underwent “a full print-to-digital transition and achieved best-in-class growth across all core traffic, customer, and financial metrics,” Apax said.
Trader Corp. is Canada’s largest and most trusted digital automotive marketplace and provides the most comprehensive set of marketing software solutions to Canadian automotive dealers. Its market leading online properties attract 13 million visits per month and are regularly relied upon by over 5,000 dealers, listing over 450,000 vehicles. In addition, the company provides software solutions that enable its dealer customers to make smarter and faster business, inventory, and marketing decisions.
The company is positioned at the center of the car buying process in Canada, connecting consumers, dealers and OEMs. Its marketplace, led by the flagship autoTrader.ca website and mobile applications, brings together Canada’s largest audience of in-market car shoppers with Canada’s most comprehensive and detailed inventory of new and used vehicle listings.
“During Trader’s partnership with Apax, we completed a complex carve-out of the business from Yellow Media Inc. and applied global best practices to transform the company into Canada’s leading digital automotive marketplace,” said Sebastian Baldwin, Trader’s president and CEO. “We now look forward to working closely with our new partners at Thoma Bravo to build upon our successes over the coming years.”
“We’re extremely impressed by Trader’s growth into the largest and most trusted digital automotive marketplace in Canada,” said Holden Spaht, a managing partner at Thoma Bravo. “We look forward to partnering with Sebastian Baldwin and the entire Trader team in their commitment to innovation and accelerating the use of Trader’s current and future software solutions.”
“Trader is well positioned to continue providing high return-on-investment products to its customer base,” added Arvindh Kumar, a principal at Thoma Bravo.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP and McMillan LLP served as legal advisors to Thoma Bravo. Evercore served as M&A advisor.
Trader Corp and Apax were advised by Goldman Sachs & Co, JP Morgan and Royal Bank of Canada. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett served as legal adviser and PricewaterhouseCoopers served as financial adviser.
Thoma Bravo is a leading private equity investment firm building on a 30+ year history of providing equity and strategic support to experienced management teams and growing companies. The firm seeks to create value by collaborating with company management to improve business operations and provide capital to support growth initiatives. Thoma Bravo invests with a particular focus on application and infrastructure software and technology enabled services. The firm currently manages a series of private equity funds representing more than $16 billion of equity commitments.
Apax Partners LLP is a leading global private equity advisory firm. Over its more than 30-year history, The firm has raised and advised funds with aggregate commitments of $38 billion. Funds advised by Apax Partners invest in companies across four global sectors of Services, Tech & Telco, Health Care, and Consumer.
Apax Partners is among the world’s most experienced private equity investors in the digital classifieds/lead generation and digital marketing solutions space, combining extensive digital investment expertise across three continents with deep operational value-add, the firm says. In addition to Trader, selected recent digital investments include AutoTrader (UK), Dealer.com (US), Idealista (Spain), Soufun (China), and since 2009, Bankrate (US).
Apax Partners’ 7-year old portfolio company Bankrate Inc. (NYSE: RATE) is the subject of a federal antitrust action brought by ExitHub’s affiliate BanxCorp in 2007, with a damages claim in excess of $542 million, which is currently pending summary judgment in the U.S. District of New Jersey.