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Classified Ventures said to work with Moelis & Co for Cars.com website sale

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March 10
6:09 AM 2014

A source told Bloomberg that Classified Ventures Llc is now working with Moelis & Co to explore sale options for its auto sales platform Cars.com, Bloomberg reported. The person with knowledge of the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information is confidential. The discussions about the sale are still in the early stages, the source said.

Classified Ventures launched Cars.com in 1998 to provide a platform for car buyers to check and compare prices and car models and get car dealer reviews. Information from its website showed that over 11 million car shoppers visit the site each month. It also features "comparison tools, photo galleries, videos, unbiased editorial content and a large selection of new- and used-car inventory" to help car buyers "make confident buying decisions." Belo Corp, Gannett Co Inc, The McClatchy Co, Tribune Co and The Washington Post Co are the five owners of Classified Ventures, the Cars.com website said.

An earlier report from The Wall Street Journal said that Classified Ventures, backed by five newspaper publishers, could ask for $3 billion for the website. However, Moelis & Co Spokeswoman Andrea Hurst did not wish to comment on the Cars.com sale, the report said.

A statement on March 3 revealed that Classified Ventures was also advised by Moelis on the sale of another website, apartments.com. Last week, the Chicago-based venture firm exited apartments.com to CoStar Group Inc for a $585 million price tag. In another statement, McClatchy said it gained $147 million from the sale of apartments.com before tax, the report said.

McClatchy holds a 26% stake in Classified Ventures while another owner Tribune, the publisher of Chicago Tribune has a 28% ownership. Moody's said that the sale of apartments.com was positive for the credit profile of Tribune. Gannett, meanwhile, has a 27% stake in Classified Ventures, the report said. 

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