July 4, 2016 — Private equity firm Thoma Bravo announced Friday that it is acquiring Trader Corp. from Apax Partners for $1.57 billion. Trader Corp. is the parent of autoTRADER.ca (no affiliation with Autotrader in the U.S. or the U.K.). The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.
Several companies — including possible strategic buyers — were rumored to be interested in the Canadian tech firm over the last several weeks. (TBR reported on June 17 that the company was nearing a sale.)
Thoma Bravo is a private equity firm with a successful record of buying and flipping software firms. Its name is often mentioned as a potential buyer of numerous automotive retail technology companies, but this is its first foray into the industry.
(UPDATED) Trader Corp. is basically the only large digital marketing company serving Canadian dealers. It provides digital marketing services — mainly as a classifieds listing site — for approximately 5,000 dealers and generates about 13 million traffic sites per month via autoTRADER.ca, autoHEBDO.net and and Autos.ca. But it has come under fire the last few years from dealers in Canada on various industry blogs for sub-par services. Numerous dealers in Canada have expressed to TBR the last couple of years a desire to see a change in ownership in the company. It will be interesting to see what Thoma Bravo does with the company and whether it stays with the current business model.