IPO: Train ticket website steams ahead with £500m London flotation

Tim Wallace and Emma Haslett
Ticket sales climbed to £1.42bn in the financial year
Train ticket website has confirmed plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO).

In a statement to the stock market this morning, the private equity-backed site said it hopes to raise £75m, which would value it at around £500m.

The company hired investment bank Morgan Stanley in July last year, in the wake of last year’s flotation boom, but after mixed performances from other technology stocks, it has held off a formal announcement of the stock market debut until today.

The coming months are expected to see a new wave of floats, with banks Shawbrook and Aldermore among early contenders, as well as Autotrader and car auctions site BCA likely to go public.

Ticket sales climbed to £1.42bn in the financial year to March 2014, giving the site revenues of £107.4m, up from £106m in 2013.

But its profits slipped, dipping 1.7 per cent on the year to £39.2m.

Exponent Private Equity has owned the firm since 2006, when it paid Virgin £163m for the firm.

The flotation could value the business at £500m. hired former eBay executive Clare Gilmartin as its chief executive last summer, as it began looking into flotation options.

From the start she was very bullish about the site’s growth potential: “Apparently, we all check our phones 100 times a day, so people have 100 opportunities to buy a train ticket on the go, which is much more than they would have done when we were a PC-only business,” she told the Sunday Times when she joined the firm. had 301 staff last year, and has stressed its ongoing investment in mobile technology as a core current activity. It invested £3.75m in development last year.

JP Morgan is joining Morgan Stanley to run the book on the deal, establishing a price and finding investors to buy into the shares.

The firms involved declined to comment on the deal.

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