Apax Partners and Guardian Media Group have begun detailed planning on a strategic review that could lead to a £2 billion sale or float of Trader Media Group, the owner of Auto Trader.
According to media reports, the partners are believed to have held talks with a number of banks, including Moelis, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan.
The appointment of a bank could lead to a sale or float as early as next year or in 2012, but a dividend re-capitalisation could also be an option.
The strategic review will consider four possibilities: a sale, a float and two dividend re-cap options.
The dividend recap could either see up to £300m more debt added to the group's balance sheet or the introduction of a third private equity investor which may purchase a 20% to 40% stake from Apax and Guardian Media Group (GMG).
Apax acquired a 49.9% stake in Trader Media group (TMG) from GMG in March 2007.
The deal valued TMG at £1.35bn.