The parent company of the Guardian and Observer has sold its majority stake in the firm that publishes Autotrader in a deal valuing the business at pounds 1.8bn, to secure the financial future of the print titles. Guardian Media Group has sold its remaining 50.1% stake in Trader Media Group to private equity house Apax, its joint venture partner in the business since 2007, and will make between pounds 600m and pounds 700m from the deal. GMG's balance sheet will also be free of responsibility for Trader Media Group's debt, which stood at pounds 560m as of last March. The sale proceeds, coupled with GMG's existing cash and investment fund, which stood at pounds 254m at the end of March, are expected to provide financial support for the Guardian, Observer and guardian.com website for at least 30 years, including funds for further potential digital and overseas expansion. Guardian News & Media , the GMG subsidiary that publishes the Guardian, Observer, and guardian.com reduced its losses to pounds 30.9m in the year to the end of March. One source said that most of the proceeds were likely to be invested to produce income to support the newspapers for the foreseeable future. That would be in line with the strategy implemented by GMG chief executive, Andrew Miller , who has divested other non-core assets such GMG Radio, sold to Global Radio for pounds 70m in 2012, sought to increase digital revenues and significantly cut losses at the newspapers. "This proposed transaction makes strategic sense as we focus GMG's activities on digital and print journalism," said Miller. "The sale-proceeds will strengthen our balance sheet and position us for further investment in our core business." GNM cut its annual loss by 30%, and increased digital revenues by 28.9% to pounds 55.9m in the year to the end of March. GMG sold an initial 49.9% stake in TMG to Apax forpounds 675m in March 2007 , valuing the business at pounds 1.35bn including debt. The company used proceeds from sale to join forces with Apax in a pounds 1bn deal to buy Emap, now called Top Right Group , which owns trade magazines such as Retail Week and Construction News and the Cannes advertising festival. The sale of the TMG stake will increase speculation over the future of GMG's last remaining major investment, the 32.9% holding in Top Right. To date the strategy has been to improve Top Right's financial position until the business can fetch a good return.
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