Currency giant Travelex tipped to be sold by private equity firm

Michael Bow
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FOREIGN exchange outfit Travelex, which swaps money for tourists and holidaymakers, could be put on the block by its private equity owners after it emerged an approach had been made by an investor about buying the company.

An anonymous investor is thought to have approached European buyout giant Apax, which bought the company in 2005, to hold talks with a view to buying the company – which could prompt the group to launch a formal sale process. Both Apax and Travelex declined to comment.

Apax bought a majority stake in the firm eight years ago at an estimated enterprise value of more than £1bn after a sale process handled by Deutsche Bank and Citigroup.

Its latest set of published results show the group turned over £586.7m in 2011, a nine per cent increase on the previous year.

The sale of its global payments business to Western Union and sale of its pre-paid card management division to Mastercard in 2011 helped the firm reverse a loss in 2010 and post a £377.6m statutory profit.

Founded in 1976, Travelex is a perennial fixture in many airports and shopping centres and has around 1,300 stores and 1,100 automated machines around the world.

Private equity funds normally hold investments for five to seven years but a period of low valuations has caused many buyout groups to hold off selling their businesses for fear of crystalising a loss.