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By Andrew Ganz

The go-to source for vehicle values is apparently on the market, according to a recent newspaper report.

The Financial Times says that the 84 year old company, including its popular Internet site, kbb.com, has been placed up for sale. JP Morgan is apparently assisting with the sale.

A banker told the FT that Kelley Blue Book would be valued between $500 million and $1 billion. AutoTrader, Google, eBay and KKR are considered the top bidders, although Kelley has not officially confirmed that it is even up for sale.



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Kelley Blue Book on the auction block?

by Chris Shunk (RSS feed) on Sep 8th 2010 at 8:01AM

Kelley Blue Book has been arming car buyers and sellers with vehicle pricing information since 1926, but the Financial Times claims that the privately owned company is looking to sell, with wo sources familiar with the matter saying KBB has hired a bank to handle the sale.

Interested in buying? Plan to have somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million to $1 billion on hand. You'll also likely have to bid against some of the industry's heaviest hitters. One of the news-leaking bankers tabs AutoTrader as the lead bidder, with both eBay and Google likely to be in the fold. Since nobody from KBB is commenting on the record, we don't know why the company is selling, but the KBB.com website has experienced a decline in traffic from nine million visits per month to about seven million over the past three years. KBB is family owned, though no members of the Kelley family currently work in executive management at the company.



Kelley Blue Book for sale, sources say

By Louise Bleakley in San Francisco

Published: September 1 2010 20:48 | Last updated: September 1 2010 20:48

Kelley Blue Book, the family-owned automotive information provider, has hired a bank for a sale, two bankers claiming knowledge of the situation told mergermarket.

JP Morgan was retained within the past few weeks for the sale process, one of the bankers said.

A spokesperson for the Irvine, California-based company declined comment. Kelley Blue Book was founded by Les Kelley in 1926 and its online arm, kbb.com, was launched in 1995.

The second banker said Kelley Blue Book is likely to be valued between USD 500m and USD 1bn.

AutoTrader.com, which recently sold a 25% stake to Providence Equity Partners, is said to be the lead bidder, the first banker said, adding that both financial and strategic suitors are involved in the process. He mentioned KKR as a likely bidder. EBay and Googlealso would be logical bidders for this asset, he said.

A third banker who had heard rumors of the sale said the 2011 hike in capital gains taxes from 15% to 20% likely played a part in the decision to sell. The company has also seen traffic to its website atrophy in recent years, he said. According to Quantcast.com, traffic has been trending downwards, from about nine million in July 2007 to seven million in July 2010. France-based Lagardère Active, which owns Jumpstart Automotive, could be added to the list of possible bidders for Kelley Blue Book, the banker said. Kelley Blue Book competes head to head withEdmunds.com, another closely-held company based near Los Angeles.

In 2000, Les Kelley’s grandson Bob and great grandson Mike retired from the company, according to its website. No Kelleys currently serve on the company’s executive management team.

JP Morgan did not respond to calls seeking comment.



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