Auto Trader has issued £186m worth of new shares to strengthen its balance sheet.

The online car marketplace has waived fees for dealerships promoting cars through its portal in April after car sales halted due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The FTSE 100 firm, which has 53 million customers, also delayed payments due for March by 30 days.

Auto Trader placed 46.5m shares at 400p each, raising £186m.

The company stated: “The net proceeds of the placing will be used to strengthen Auto Trader’s balance sheet and liquidity position, support all stakeholders, increase our flexibility to take advantage of future opportunities, and increase certainty around meeting covenant tests in future years.

“Furthermore, this equity raise will allow us to resume our existing capital return policy at the earliest prudent opportunity.”

There are currently 540,000 vehicles advertised on its website and app.