Trader Publishing Co., the parent of Soundings and Soundings Trade Only, will split into two companies, following an agreement between its co-owners Landmark Communications and Cox Enterprises.
Landmark Communications of Norfolk, Va., will own 443 publications and 38 Web sites, serving the real estate, apartments, employment and recreational (motorcycle, boats, recreational vehicle) markets. Those publications include Soundings and Soundings Trade Only. Landmark also will own Trader's free distribution network, Trader Distribution Services, and all of Trader's information services and Web services businesses.
Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises will own Trader Publishing's automobile-related publications, including 341 automobile and light truck titles such as Auto Trader, Auto Mart and Truck Trader, and four companion Web sites for vehicles including AutoMart.com and AutoExtra.com. In addition, Landmark will transfer to Cox its 26-percent interest in AutoTrader.com. Cox will also control the distribution network for all Trader's paid circulation titles.
"Since Trader was formed on April 1, 1991, we have grown from $150 million in annual sales to $1.3 billion - a compound growth rate of 15 percent - and we have become the largest publisher of localized print publications and Web sites in all the major market segments for classified media in the United States," said Conrad Hall, CEO of Trader Publishing, in a statement. "Now 15 years later, our co-owners are heading along new paths that make perfect sense for their respective business strategies in 2006 and going forward."
Landmark will change the name of its Trader assets to Dominion Enterprises, which was chosen for its broad scope, as well as Landmark's and Trader's heritage as Virginia-based companies. Hall will retain his CEO title at Dominion Enterprises.
Cox's ownership stake in Trader Publishing, which will be called Auto Trader Publishing, and AutoTrader.com, will become part of a new entity called Cox Auto Trader. It will be headed by Cox veteran Sanford Schwartz.
Under the terms of the agreement Trader's 11 regional printing plants and related transportation assets will become an independent company, owned equally by Landmark and Cox. The plants will provide printing, production and distribution services to the companies.
"I anticipate little change for Trader's almost 10,000 employees as a result of this ownership reorganization," said Hall. "Simply put, people who are working on auto and light truck publications will become part of Cox, and people associated with our other titles and businesses will join Dominion. The personnel at our printing plants will be unaffected. We expect to have the new companies fully formed by the end of June."
Dominion will continue to be headquartered in Norfolk. Auto Trader Publishing also will be based in the same city.