UK Currency Firm Targeted In £150m Bid Battle
A British foreign currency provider is at the centre of an international bidding war that will crystallise multimillion pound fortunes for its major shareholders.
Sky News understands that Ozforex, an Australian peer, and Euronet, which is listed on the Nasdaq exhcange in the US, have tabled offers to buy Berkshire-based HiFX.
Founded in 1998, HiFX has grown rapidly into an enterprise employing more than 200 people and establishing itself as the partner of the Post Office's international payments service.
The company, which is privately-owned, will fetch a price of well over £100m and potentially as much as £150m, according to analysts.
PricewaterhouseCoopers is handling the auction, which will, if completed, trigger big payouts for Shaun Taylor, Daniel Butcher and Matthew Knowles, HiFX's founders.
A number of private equity groups had been examining offers for HiFX but Ozforex or Euronet were now likely to buy the company if they could agree the terms of a deal, an insider said.
The company reported a 60% rise in operating profit from continuing operations in the year to last June, from £4.8m to £7.7m.
It advised on and executed more than £9bn in foreign exchange transactions during the year and has more than £2bn placed on the money markets on behalf of its commercial customers.
Among the risk factors cited in the latest set of accounts filed at Companies House last autumn was a decision by Britain to ditch the pound.
"The replacement of sterling by the euro as the domestic currency of the UK would have a significant impact on the earnings of the group. The directors consider a referendum on this issue is unlikely to take place in the short to medium term," HiFX said.
The auction of HiFX comes as Moneycorp, Britain's second-largest retail provider of foreign exchange, is also put up for sale.
TTT Moneycorp, which operates nearly 80 retail outlets in airports and other travel destinations, is to be auctioned at the same time as Travelex, one of its main rivals, prepares for a stock market flotation.
The payments specialist's owner is a vehicle which until recently was managed by the taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
Founded in 1999 at a shop on Oxford Street in London's West End, Moneycorp now handles transactions worth more than £8bn annually and employs more than 500 people.
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