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Silicon Valley buyout firm Silver Lake Partners is set to lead a €1bn acquisition of Swiss-based retail technology concern Global Blue, in what would count among the top handful of private equity deals in Europe this year.
The deal gives the US firm and Partners Group, an investment manager based in Switzerland, an unusual entry into the burgeoning market of luxury purchases by international travellers, as rich visitors from China, Russia and elsewhere become a more important source of business for European retailers.
Set up 30 years ago, Global Blue began as a service to help international travellers to Switzerland reclaim the taxes they pay on local purchases.
It has since expanded into 41 countries and into other services for luxury retailers who rely on international travellers, for instance with data analytics and marketing tools to help them understand and try to build longer-term relationships with the foreign visitors.
The sale of Global Blue by Equistone, a firm that was spun off by Barclays late last year to take on the bank’s private equity interests, was set to be announced early on Monday.
Per Setterberg, chief executive, is among the executives who has committed his stake in Global Blue to the Silver Lake deal and will continue to lead the company.
As a large processor of transactions on behalf of merchants, with 25m a year, the technology services company fits into a Silver Lake portfolio that includes a number of other back-office processing concerns, including Sabre, the airline reservation system, and Multiplan, which handles healthcare claims.