Packer expands digital empire, snaps up stake in auction site Trade Me

James Packer is continuing to grow his digital empire, with his Ellerston Capital fund now buying a slice of New Zealand auction website Trade Me.

Not only is the move similar to others made by large traditional media and publishing houses to diversify their digital investments, but it’s also one of several made by Packer himself and his related entities.

Last year, he grabbed stakes in Catch of the Day and DealsDirect, and earlier this year put $5 million in eCommerce freight business Temando. Both the DealsDirect and Temando deals were purchased through Ellerston.

Trade Me, which is listed in both Australia and New Zealand, released a statement informing the market of the holding. Ellerston now owns 5.18% of Trade Me, after taking shares in separate transactions between April and August.

Consolidated Press Holdings controls 25% stake in Ellerston, although the business is run by chief executive Ashok Jacob.

Trade Me has a long and tumultuous history. The company went public last year after Fairfax sold its holdings in order to support its fledgling publishing business. It has managed to record solid results, most recently beating its half-year pre-tax forecast by 2.2%.

Trade Me shares have risen 35% since listing last year, currently trading at $2.99.

The business was acquired in 2006 for about $580 million, although Fairfax sold a 15% stake at $160 million in June. The media giant still holds a majority stake.




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