Editor's note: In June 2015, Gannett spun off its publishing business and renamed its remaining operations, including Cars.com, as Tegna. An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the terms of that deal.
Cars.com CEO Alex Vetter says the planned spinoff from broadcast and digital media company Tegna Inc. will position the company for growth, including acquisitions.
Vetter says the move, which is to take effect in the first half of 2017, will make the company more nimble in the years ahead as more expansion opportunities such as the acquisition of consumer review site DealerRater, unveiled in July, present themselves.
Cars.com will benefit, Vetter says, from having a dedicated board of directors that will be singularly focused on the goals of the third-party site. Vetter also expects to attract more talent as an independent company.
Cars.com had been under the shared ownership of five media companies before Gannett bought out the others' stakes in October 2014. Discussions about the possibility of Cars.com becoming independent began soon afterward. In June 2015, Gannett spun off its publishing business and renamed its remaining operations, including Cars.com, as Tegna.
Vetter said Tegna was the launching pad for Cars.com's independence. It would've been much more difficult, he said, for the company to operate on its own if it had suddenly gone from five owners to none.
Vetter said the last two years have been "foundational" for Cars.com.
"When Tegna acquired the company, it allowed us to have singular ownership, and importantly a singular ownership that is publicly traded and could help us prepare quietly in the background to spin this company out," Vetter told Automotive News.
He added, "Tegna's support -- be that financial, strategic, operational and even cultural -- has been profound, and has really positioned the company to be very successful entering into this next phase of growth as a stand-alone public entity."