Cox buys back 25 percent stake in AutoTrader

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Cox Enterprises Inc. has regained almost complete control of AutoTrader Group after buying back a 25 percent stake in the online shopping site and software vendor that it sold in 2010.

Cox purchased the AutoTrader Group equity from Providence Equity Partners, Cox announced today. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Wall Street Journal pegged the price at $1.8 billion, citing an unnamed source. Providence bought the 25 percent stake in 2010 for $640 million, the paper said.

With the purchase, Cox now owns 98 percent of AutoTrader Group, with the other 2 percent owned by current and former employees.

It is the second $1 billion deal in the segment in less than a month. In December, publicly traded Dealertrack Technologies agreed to buy Web site and digital marketing vendor Dealer.com for about $1 billion in cash and stock.

AutoTrader Group includes the AutoTrader.com and Kelley Blue Book vehicle shopping sites and dealership software companies vAuto, HomeNet and VinSolutions. The group posted revenue of about $1.2 billion in 2012.

Atlanta-based Cox is a media, cable and automotive services giant. Its properties also include vehicle auction company Manheim Inc.

You can reach David Barkholz at dbarkholz@crain.com. -- Follow David on Twitter and


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