Travelex set for a £1bn flotation

Foreign-exchange specialist the latest company to join queue for London Stock Exchange listing
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The Independent Online

Travelex has joined the rush to float on the buoyant London Stock Exchange, as the world's biggest foreign-exchange specialists eyes a share sale that would value the business at more than £1bn.

As Royal Mail shares soared on their stock-market debut on Friday, Travelex is looking to join a multitude of companies hungry to take advantage of the best conditions for a flotation since the onset of the financial crisis. Others in the line include Madame Tussauds-owner Merlin and old-age insurance specialist Saga.

This revives talk of a flotation from 2010 and comes several months after owner Apax was approached by a potential buyer, thought to have been from Asia.

A source close to the private-equity giant and Travelex said: "Apax has been in the business since 2005, and while the public markets are very strong, Travelex has to consider its options. There's a lot of preparatory work to do and there's a bit of a queue, so a flotation would be in 2014."

A banking source added he was waiting to be called to a beauty parade to decide on who the advisers will be, which is expected shortly.

He said: "This is the first real feeling for four or five years that there is a real queue of companies of good reputation and, crucially, good name recognition."

The banker added that the group's chairman, Lloyd Dorfman, who founded Travelex 37 years ago from a bureau de change in central London, would have had his interest "piqued" by the number of retail investors who have snapped up shares in Royal Mail.

He added: "Dorfman might look at a retail tranche given that everyone who has been to an airport has heard of Travelex."

Travelex now has 1,300 stores and 1,100 cash machines, trading more than 80 currencies around the world.

However, the group has not been without its troubles in recent years, as it had to sell its business payments operation, TGBP, to Western Union, to help pay-off a debt that reached £641m in 2010.

The company's revenue was £630.4m in 2012, up 8 per cent on the previous 12 months.

The key profit measure – earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – was £70.3m, an increase of 12 per cent.

Last month, chief executive Peter Jackson said that there was "strong trading across the busy July and August summer holiday period", sparking speculation that Travelex could be ready to float.