Is This Swiss Payments Firm Worth $2.3B?

The next multi-billion dollar deal to come down the European pike may happen with Swiss tax refund payments enterprise Global Blue, Reuters reported late last week (April 8).

The newswire said that the firm’s owners, newly shopping the firm, are in the midst of letting prospective buyers name their prices, and at this point, a deal could come in at €2 billion, or as much as $2.3 billion.

Global Blue is based in Geneva and, among other services, provides VAT sales tax refunds. The customer base spans more than 100,000 daily. The clientele has traditionally been tied to tourists buying luxury goods while traveling abroad. The tax-free shopping network has 270,000 partners across retailers, hotels and other businesses through 43 nations.

Among the suitors, things may be heating up, the newswire reported. Silver Lake and Partners Group, as part of backers across several funds, which share ownership control of a business that operates a tax-free shopping network, have gone so far as to sign non-disclosure agreements with a number of potential buyers, among them several European buyout funds. Reuters cited unnamed sources.

Some risk factors, according to the newswire, center on dependence on tax legislation and, of course, the global economy, as well as continued buying from Russian, Middle Eastern and Chinese tourists. Those markets are starting to see a slowdown in consumer spending.

There’s a bit of precedent in this segment, as buyout funds have taken on the backing of a tax-free shipping firm based in Ireland, which was sold late last year to French investment firm Eurazeo for €550 million ($626 million).


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