A trade sale is a common way of exit to a trade buyer. This allows the management to withdraw from the business and may open up the prospect of collaboration on larger projects.
It normally entails the disposal of a company's shares or assets and even liabilities, in whole or in part. This may refer to a strategic buyer who intends to grow his business or to a financial buyer who wants to generate a financial return on his invested capital at the time of exit. The term Trade Sale is mostly used in the context of Venture Capital and refers to the sale of a company in its early stages.
Trade sales are the most frequently used exit vehicle both in Europe and the US.
The term trade sale may also refer to business-to-business sales, rather than sales made directly to the public.