Low bids derail thetrainline.com sale

The private equity owner of thetrainline.com has reportedly abandoned a sale of the online rail distributor after failing to attract a hoped-for £400 million for the business.

Exponent, which was acquired for £163 million six years ago, is understood to have ended the process after bids failed to meet price expectations.

Ten trade and private equity bidders initially showed an interest in the company, with the highest bid coming in at around £250 million.

Francisco Partners of the US, private equity group KKR, which owns stakes in Alliance Boots and Pets at Home, and an unidentified trade bidder remained in the running in the second round of bidding, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The newspaper said sources indicated that the bids “didn’t reflect shareholders’ view of thetrainline’s future growth prospects”.

Sales for the year to February 2012 are believed to have increased by 15% to £1.3 billion and thetrainline.com made earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £32.4 million in the year to February 2011.

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