Equistone sells Global Blue to Silver Lake Partners and Partners Group in a €1bn transaction

Equistone sells Global Blue to Silver Lake Partners and Partners Group in a €1bn transaction

24 May 2012

Equistone Partners Europe, (“Equistone”) one of Europe’s leading mid-market private equity investors, today announces the sale of Global Blue (or the “Company”), the international provider of travel-related payment services, to Silver Lake Partners and Partners Group in a €1bn transaction.  The sale of Global Blue will take total capital returned to investors to approximately 60% of Fund III.  Formed in 2007, Fund III has made 38 investments and has already had eight realisations.  

Founded as Sweden Tax Free Shopping in 1980, Global Blue is one of the world’s leading providers of traveller-related services including tax refunds for travellers on purchases when shopping overseas, dynamic currency conversion services which enable customers to pay in their home currency at the point of sale, and marketing services for merchants. Global Blue is headquartered in Switzerland with a presence in 41 countries and approximately 1,400 employees worldwide.

Equistone backed the €360m management buyout of Global Blue (then Global Refund) in September 2007. During Equistone’s investment period, the Company has shown impressive growth, doubling revenues and increasing EBITDA from c. €35m to c. €97m.

Equistone worked alongside the management team to develop the business by:

  • Targeting high growth areas outside the EU with c. 70% of revenues generated through travellers from emerging markets, particularly China and Russia
  • Enhancing the current management team with the appointment of CFO Philipp Manser (formerly of Hotelplan and Roche) and Chief Marketing Officer Arjen Kruger (formerly of MasterCard)
  • Digitising various stages of the tax free shopping transaction to increase efficiency and offer a simpler process for customers
  • Developing a highly-skilled sales force providing assistance and training to merchants and their staff to cater for travellers using Global Blue’s tax refund service
  • Centralising and improving the efficiency of Global Blue’s processing capabilities

Owen Clarke, Chief Investment Officer at Equistone, commented:

“In backing Global Blue in 2007, we identified a business with excellent management and compelling opportunities to improve its offering to international travellers and merchants. We are proud to have worked alongside Per Setterberg and the team to grow a business which has performed so strongly, even through the economic downturn, due to its powerful network of merchants and refund points allowing travellers to make significant savings on their overseas shopping.”

Per Setterberg, President and Chief Executive of Global Blue, commented:

“Equistone has provided tremendous support in developing Global Blue over the past five years during which we have successfully expanded globally and doubled the number of transactions handled to 27 million annually. We are in a good position to take advantage of the long term growth trends in both international travel and spending on luxury goods under new ownership.”  

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