New Zealand online auction web site bought for NZ$700 million

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Monday, March 6, 2006

TradeMe logo

John Fairfax Holdings Limited announced today that it will be purchasing the New Zealand online auction site TradeMe in a deal worth NZ$700 million.

An additional $50 million will be paid out if earnings targets are met over the next two years.

Sam Morgan, who founded Trade Me in 1999, is set to make over $220 million.

Fairfax chief executive David Kirk said "I am delighted Sam Morgan will remain with TradeMe for a good period of time. We also welcome as new colleagues the entire Trade Me staff." TradeMe has 48 employees.

"The business will be run absolutely as it is today. There's not a lot we can do to improve the way the business has been run and developed."

The purchase follows acquisitions of other online businesses worth AU$200 million by Fairfax since the late 1990s, which according to its competitor News Corporation have produced limited returns.

TradeMe is New Zealand's largest auction site, and became the most popular website in New Zealand in 2005.

During peak hours, TradeMe has approximately 30,000 - 50,000 people on line at any one time, and 565,000 auctions running. TradeMe has about 1.2 million members, representing a sizable proportion of New Zealand's population of around 4.2 million people. Trade Me accounts for over 60% of New Zealand's web traffic.

The transaction needs to get final approval under the New Zealand Overseas Investment Act. This is expected to take place in April.


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