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Guardian Media Group may sell Auto Trader in business revamp

Guardian Media Group may sell Auto Trader in business revamp

LONDON: The Guardian Media Group in planning a strategic review of its business, which may see the company divesting its Auto Trader magazine division and Smooth FM radio station, which may fetch the company nearly 1 billion pounds, according to newspaper reports. Guardian Media Group publishes the Guardian and the Observer newspapers, besides other publications.

The reports quoted unnamed company officials as saying the most likely outcome of the review will be the disposal of Trader Media, the unit that houses Auto Trader and some 60 other magazine titles.

The Observer too said the company is about to appoint advisers to undertake the review. The company is owned by the not-for-profit Scott Trust.

The sources indicated that the company is not keen to commit investments needed to improve Trader Media’s profitability. Latest financial results had shown an increase in the operating profits of the division from 74 million pounds to 117 million pounds in 2005 on sales of 305 million pounds.

The trustees of the Scott Trust are bound to preserve the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian. The newspaper saw a facelift in September with a Berliner format, and the revamp cost the company 80 million pounds. In December, the Observer too underwent such a revamp.

The chief executive of the company Sir Bob Phillis has announced his decision to step down in view of his ill health and the company is in search of a new chief executive.

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