Trainline pulled its stock market float yesterday, after accepting an estimated £500 million-plus bid from global investment firm KKR.
KKR had been watching the online rail-ticketing company for about three years before approaching Exponent Private Equity, the majority owner of Trainline, last month.
It’s understood that discussions between KKR and Exponent, as well as Trainline’s executive management team, which includes chief executive Clare Gilmartin and chairman Doug McCallum, continued since Christmas even as Trainline forged ahead with plans to float, The Times reported.
Trainline, which generated about £1 billion of ticket sales last year, said two weeks ago that it planned to float on the main London index, which could have valued the company at more than £500 million.
KKR declined to comment on what it paid for Trainline but it is understood to have been in line with the group’s estimated flotation value.
Trainline is the most downloaded travel app in the UK and its website ranks fifth by gross transaction value in the UK e-commerce sector. The company has 4.7 million active customers, 20.8m visits per month and operates platforms for both consumers and businesses.Trainline is licensed to sell rail tickets on behalf of all UK train operating companies, Deutsche Bahn and Trenitalia.
McCallum said: “Our vision is to transform Trainline into a leading international e-commerce platform and an indispensable partner of the smartphone-enabled digital mobility landscape. We are excited to be able to accelerate this journey with an experienced and global investment partner like KKR.”
Gilmartin said: “Trainline has achieved a lot during our eight years working alongside Exponent to develop the business, and we are well positioned to capitalise on great growth opportunities driven by the systemic shift to online in rail and the step-change in mobile and e-fulfilment, as well as international opportunities.
“In KKR we have found a partner that can support our expansion with capital, operational resources and access to its global network.”Dominic Murphy, member and head of KKR operations in the UK, said: “The investment in Trainline adds to our track record of partnering with entrepreneurs and management teams to build global companies and industry leaders.
“Similar to our Alliance Boots investment, we will support a strong investment program leading to a further transformation and strong international expansion of the company.”
Philipp Freise, member and head of the European media and digital investment team at KKR, added: “Trainline is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the significant expected growth in mobile penetration and benefits from a best-in-class leadership team.”We are excited about partnering with the team to accelerate Trainline’s growth.”