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Auto Trader shares rise 10 percent in London market listing — Reuters

LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) – Shares in online car marketplace operator Auto Trader Group rose more than 10 percent after the company began trading on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Earlier, Auto Trader had set the price for its initial public offering at 235 pence per share, giving it a market value of 2.35 billion pounds ($3.49 billion).

The shares were more than 10 percent higher at about 260.25 pence by 0812 after hitting a high of 265 pence.

The IPO makes the 37-year-old brand one of the UK’s biggest listings this year.

The company, which operates Britain’s leading website for buying and selling new and used cars, said it would raise about 437 million pounds by selling 590 million shares or 59 percent of its issued share capital.

Auto Trader, owned by private equity fund Apax Partners, will use the proceeds to repay its existing debt.

The listing plan follows an approach by U.S. private equity firm Hellman & Friedman earlier this year with a potential 2 billion pounds takeover offer.

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.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank are acting as joint global co-ordinators and joint bookrunners, with J.P. Morgan Cazenove and Morgan Stanley retained as joint bookrunners. Numis Securities is acting as lead manager. ($1 = 0.67 pounds)