Blank cheque firm Far Point makes fintech play through Global Blue acquisition

Blank cheque firm Far Point makes fintech play through Global Blue acquisition

Swiss payments and tax-free shopping outfit Global Blue has agreed a merger with Far Point, a "blank cheque" firm set up by hedge fund Third Point and former Nyse president Thomas Farley, in a deal that includes a significant investment from Ant Financial.

The deal, which sees the combined company valued at $2.6 billion, sees Far Point contribute around $650 million, with Ant putting in $125 million, Third Point $100 million, and other investors a combined $125 million.

The deal enables the combined firm to list on the New York Stock Exchange via a reverse merger. Global Blue CEO Jacques Stern will stay in place with Farley taking on the role of chairman.

Far Point was set up in 2018 by Third Point - the hedge fund run by notorious activist investor Daniel Loeb - and Farley specifically to buy fintech firms.

Global Blue pioneered the concept of tax free shopping 40 years ago, helping travellers claim back the VAT on their eligible purchases when they shop abroad. The firm operates in 51 countries with 300,000 merchants.

Says Farley: "Global Blue is the clear market leader in the attractive and growing Tax Free Shopping ecosystem worldwide. The company has achieved remarkable progress in digitalisation, geographic expansion and strategic value creation".

The agreement - slated to close in the second quarter - will see current Global Blue shareholders - including PE firm Silver Lake - take a 42% ownership stake in the pro-forma company, while existing Far Point public shareholders get 34%, cornerstone equity investors (including Third Point and Ant) own 19%, and Far Point sponsors six per cent.

Angel Zhao, president, international business group, Ant Financial, says: "Global Blue is an important partner for Ant Financial and the broader Alibaba ecosystem as we continue to deepen our globalization strategy.

"Alipay and our global e-wallet partners' user bases, along with Global Blue's extensive merchant and airport footprint across more than 50 countries, together creates significant potential to expand the relationship and introduce new technologies and services to the marketplace."

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