Galway-based payments firm set for €585m sale

Fintrax - the world’s second biggest player in processing tourist VAT refunds - poised to be sold to French private equity firm

Fintrax is the world’s second biggest player in processing tourist VAT refunds on behalf of retailers and governments

Fintrax is the world’s second biggest player in processing tourist VAT refunds on behalf of retailers and governments

 

A French private equity player looks poised to buy Irish VAT refund giant with an offer said to be worth around €585 million, almost three times what its British parent paid for it in 2012.

Reports at the weekend said that Eurazeo, a shareholder in hotel giant, Accor, is set to sign a deal today to buy Galway-based Fintrax for £410 million sterling (€585 million).

The deal could be announced this morning. A spokeswoman for the buyer said yesterday that it would not comment in the reports “unitil Monday”.

Fintrax has been on the block for some time but the Euraeo offer far outstrips the €500 million or so bids that the Irish company was thought likely to attract when it came on the market earlier this year.

Eurazeo’s bid saw off competing approaches from another European player Bridgepoint and US private equity house, Hellman & Freidman and China UnionPay, all of which were reported to be circling the Irish business at various times last summer.

British-based Exponent Private Equity bought Fintrax in 2012 for €170 million, netting its founder Gerry Barry and his family €119 million for their 70 per cent stake in the business.

He cut his ties with the company, but a number of his senior colleagues remained on. The company is now led by chief executive, Patrick Waldron, who is based in London.

World’s second biggest player for VAT refunds

Founded in 1985, Fintrax is the world’s second biggest player in processing tourist VAT refunds on behalf of retailers and governments.

The year before Exponent bought it, Fintrax completed about 3.7 million of these transactions using the Premier Tax Free brand, which services more than 80,000 retailers around the world. This returned about €225 million to international travellers in 2011.

Fintrax also provides multicurrency payments and processing solutions for banks and retailers. It earns commissions for each transaction. The company is headquartered in Galway and employs more than 400 people across 26 countries.

The deal follows Exponent’s recent sale of vegetarian food group, Quorn and rail ticket seller, Trainline for prices that beat market expectations.

The sale comes shortly after a row in Britain over tax returns which saw the country’s government attacking high-profile retailers such as WH Smigth for failing to pass on VAT refunds in an effort to bolster their profits.