Guardian 'secure for generations to come' after tax-free bonanza of £619m from Auto Trader sale

The Guardian's sole shareholder, the Scott Trust, says the title's future is "secure for generations to come" after Guardian Media Group today completed the sale of its 50.1 per cent stake in Auto Trader.

GMG has received £619m from the disposal of Trader Media Group to venture capital firm Apax Partners, which becomes the sole shareholder after previously owning 49.9 per cent of the company.

The news comes as GMG announced it was forecasting a 20 per cent increase in digital revenues for 2013/14, to about £70m. The group said net revenues are also forecast to rise for the first time since 2008.

The Trader Media sale was first announced in January and has now received regulatory approval. Guardian Media Group said Trader Media had made a £1.4bn return on investment for the news publisher since 2007.

Scott Trust chair Dame Liz Forgan said: "We can look forward to an era of editorial innovation from the Guardian titles, which are proven pioneers of both journalism and digital distribution.

"The unique contribution made by the Guardian to national and international debate is now secure for generations to come."

GMG chief executive Andrew Miller said the sale proceeds would enable the Guardian to "deliver world-class journalism from a position of financial strength".

He added: "Completion of this transaction comes at an ideal time for GMG as we adapt to a rapidly-changing marketplace."

The £619m adds to the £253.7m of cash an investments which GMG said it had in the bank when it published its annual results last year. This leaves an investment fund which is likely to be in excess of £850m to underwrite Guardian News and Media losses.

GNM reported a loss of £30.9m for the year to the end of April 2013. Press Gazette understands that its target is to reduce operating losses to £20m on an ongoing basis.

A GMG spokesperson told Press Gazette that they won't be paying any tax on the £619m because of the "substanial shareholding exemption" which automatically applies under HMRC rules.

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