RealTime IT News

Newsquest Takes Stake in Freeserve Auctions

England's largest regional newspaper publisher Newsquest plc announced this week that it is to make a strategic investment in Freeserve Auctions Ltd.

In exchange for a 9.9 per cent shareholding, Newsquest will inject £2 million ($3.3 million) in cash, plus £10 million ($16.4 million) in advertising support.

Most significantly, Newsquest will stop using its AuctionHunter brand name for auctions, which means one less rival for Freeserve in a very competitive market.

"The merger of the AuctionHunter and the Freeserve Auctions sites will significantly enhance the value and reach of Freeserve Auctions' brand," confirmed John Pluthero, chief executive officer of Freeserve.

Freeserve is enlarging the share capital of Freeserve Auctions to accommodate the newcomer. After the transaction, Freeserve will have 72.1 per cent, with auctions.com holding the remaining 18 per cent.

Jim Brown, executive chairman of Newsquest was very bullish about the deal.

"For some time Newsquest-Gannett has been progressing a UK auction site but this opportunity to link with Freeserve is a huge leap forward," said Brown.

Among Newsquest's newspaper titles are the Evening Argus and The Northern Echo, plus around 180 other with a total circulation of five million copies.

One of Newsquest's most ambitious online ventures is its 20 "This Is..." digital community sites, such as This Is Essex and This Is Oxfordshire.

Newsquest's advertising support of Freeserve Auctions will include auction listings in classified advertising sections, together with other brand marketing.