3i sells Thomson guides for pounds 220m

3I, THE VENTURE capital group, announced yesterday that it had sold independent classified directories publisher Thomson Directories for pounds 220m to a newly-formed subsidiary of Apax Partners, a private equity investment group.

The new company, TDL Infomedia, will take ownership of the initial investment and act as a vehicle for the future expansion of Thomson Directories both on the Internet and abroad. It will also consider further acquisitions of directories businesses. 3i will realise its investment in Thomson and reinvest pounds 10m in TDL in exchange for an 11 per cent shareholding. Advent International, to whom 3i syndicated part of its original investment, will take a 15 per cent stake in the new group.

CIBC World Markets will underwrite pounds 160m of banking facilities to fund the additional investments and growth of TDL. Thomson Directories will continue to be run by its current management team, which retains a significant minority stake in the business.

Toby Wyles, director of Apax partners, said: "Media is one of our core areas of interest and we are very happy to have this opportunity to back Gary List [Thomson Directories' chief executive] and his team in taking the company on to its next stage of growth."

Thomson Directories publishes 167 area versions of its Thomson Local brand. The company also has an Internet site, ThomWeb, as well as a range of CD Rom products. It recently agreed its first international joint venture, with Deficom, to publish local classified directories in Belgium.

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