First-round bids are due next week for the sale of Global Blue, the Switzerland-headquartered international VAT refund business. When the sale of the business was first floated last year there was some scepticism from bankers about the firm’s suitability for a secondary buyout, given its reliance on consumers from countries such as Russia and China to continue their love affair with the more upmarket shops of Europe. However, Global Blue has been a very strong growth story, with EBITDA surging from around €35 million in 2007 to roughly €85 million today, and at least five sponsors are working towards first-round bids on April 4, sources said. J.P. Morgan and Evercore are advising, and a loan-led financing is expected.
Bridgepoint, meanwhile, is seeking indicative bids next month for its sale of Alain Afflelou, with Bain and Lion Capital looking to participate. Rothschild is advising. The deal is likely to entail a roughly €400 million debt financing, which will either take the form of a senior-and-mezzanine mix or a high-yield bond, sources said.
In a similar size range is KMD, which has an EBITDA in the €70 million region. EQT is looking to sell the Danish IT firm, and the process is said to be at an early stage.
Meanwhile, Triton’s proposed sale of Bravida, the Sweden-based provider of installation services for buildings, is progressing with a handful of sponsors understood to be through to the second round of bidding. Deutsche Bank and Handelsbanken are advising the private equity firm.
Among smaller opportunities, Exponent’s potential sale of The Trainline is in its early stages, with books due out in April, sources said. The online train timetable and booking service has an EBITDA in the £24 million to £33 million range, sources added, depending on how much adjustment is made to accommodate changes in the firm’s contract with Virgin. While some point to the firm’s performance and contracted revenues as reasons sponsors might be interested in the business, others suggest a trade sale is more likely. Trade buyers are also thought the most likely buyer for Wood Mackenzie, the equity research specialist that Charterhouse is looking to sell. Quayle Munro, a specialist in the energy and renewables sector, is advising.
Also ongoing are Hg Capital’s plans for SHL, the U.K.-based talent management group. Morgan Stanley is advising. SHL was bought out in 2006, and since then Hg Capital merged the firm with PreVisor to create a group that delivers more than 15 million assessments annually in more than 150 countries and 30 languages. Reports this morning suggest the firm could garner a price tag of up to $700 million. – David Cox/Sarah Husband