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Auto Trader presses ahead with London listing in March — Reuters

(Reuters) – Online car marketplace operator Auto Trader has announced its intention to proceed with a flotation on the London Stock Exchange, the company said on Thursday.

Auto Trader, which operates Britain’s leading website for buying and selling new and used cars, expects to be admitted to trade in March as a FTSE 250 company.

The listing plan comes after U.S. private equity firm Hellman & Friedman approached the company earlier this year in a bid to scupper its flotation plans with a potential 2 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) takeover offer.

But Auto Trader’s private equity owner, Apax Partners, intends to go ahead with the share offer targeting a free float of at least 25 percent of the company’s issued share capital.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank are acting as joint global co-ordinators and joint bookrunners.

J.P. Morgan Cazenove and Morgan Stanley have been retained as joint bookrunners while Numis Securities is acting as lead manager.

With the highest number of car advertisements in the UK and a 37-year-old brand, Auto Trader’s IPO could be one of the UK’s biggest listings this year.

Last year, private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice, owner of the rival British Car Auctions (BCA) marketplace, instructed a pool of banks to seek a London listing for BCA, but eventually decided to scrap the hoped-for 1.2 billion pounds IPO in October, blaming volatility in global equity markets.

Apax Partners acquired 49.9 percent of Auto Trader from the Guardian Media Group in 2007 and subsequently took full control in 2014 for 619 million pounds. ($1 = 0.6437 pounds) (Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia; Editing by Vincent Baby)