The Market Herald ditches plans to become the next Financial Times, takes on Carsales instead

That turmoil came after Mr Sanger acquired Gumtree, CarsGuide and Autotrader from Norway’s Adevinta for $87 million last year, a deal largely funded by a $60 million vendor loan. Mr Sanger had grand plans to become a global force in business journalism. The company’s share price has fallen 33 per cent since January – though it has jumped 28 per cent this past month.

“We are not a newspaper publication, We are not publishing any newspapers, we are not going to publish any newspapers,” Mr Logtenberg said. “We are not going to compete with the AFR. What we do is capital markets, and we do classifieds, and that’s it.”

Former managing director of The Market Herald, Jag Sanger. Ross Swanborough

His first job on taking over The Market Herald was to refinance the Adevinta vendor loan, which was paying between 8 and 10 per cent. “It is now a $46 million loan. We will have repaid $5 million by the end of this year,” he said. The company is paying 6 per cent interest.

His second job was to slash sections of the business which he described as “heavily loss-making”.

“There was this TMH Fancy. We have a car leasing business – it’s not really in our strategic focus. We have 278 cars on our balance sheet. That doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Mr Logtenberg, who has followed Gumtree from its former owners at eBay, Adevinta and now The Market, said his focus would be on the Gumtree brands, which drive most of the revenue. Gumtree, a 23-year-old former market leader in classifieds, has lost huge share to Facebook Marketplace.

But it still has traction in four key verticals: cars, pets, jobs and services for hire. Mr Logtenberg said he would push to compete more in these areas – with the likes of Carsales, Seek and AirTasker. The next steps are an on-platform payments system, immediate cash for cars, and on-platform pet insurance.

“You need to select a couple of verticals where technically the yields are highest,” he said. Every week, 5000 cars are listed on Gumtree.

Gumtree was the market leader for pets, Mr Logtenberg said. “So why not also then offer insurance?”

Mr Sanger disputed the high corporate credit card bill and the change in strategy. “A year ago Gumtree had 110 per cent of Carsales’ private car listings. Today it has less than 30 per cent,” he said.

“I don’t know how being the leading listing site for puppy farms makes up the slack. They need to focus and focus quickly.”

Twila Jensen, who leads the capital markets business and is The Market’s chief operating officer, said while HotCopper’s reputation had been as a haven for day traders and dark ops investor relations, her goal would be to provide “trusted research for intelligent investors”.

“I understand that it has a colourful history and, you know, investors that have different agendas at the end of the day,” she said. “But by providing them with much more education, research and analysis by upgrading the financial tools on site, investors can make a much more intelligent decision and not rely on the forums as much as they previously would.”