Online UK train ticket seller thetrainline.com has been bought by New York private equity firm KKR for a figure thought to be over £500 million.

As a result of the acquisition, Britain’s biggest rail-ticketing firm, will no longer float on the London Stock Exchange. 

thetrainline.com has been bought by KKR, shunning an IPO on the London Stock Exchange in the process ©iStock

The deal comes less than two weeks after Trainline owner, Exponent, confirmed its intent to list the business.

It’s likely that KKR came in with an offer above what Exponent thought it could raise by making Trainline a publicly listed company.

Clare Gilmartin, chief executive of thetrainline.com, said: “Trainline has achieved a lot during our eight years working alongside Exponent to develop the business, and we are well positioned to capitalise on great growth opportunities driven by the systemic shift to online in rail and the step-change in mobile and e-fulfilment, as well as international opportunities.

“In KKR we have found a partner that can support our expansion with capital, operational resources and access to its global network.”

Exponent, which also owns meat-alternative company Quorn and handbag firm Radley, bought Trainline for £160 million from a consortium comprising Virgin, National Express and Stagecoach.

The company nearly sold the business on to a US consortium six years later but the deal collapsed.

Last year, several other firms, including Travelex and M&M Direct, decided that a sale was more lucrative than going public.

This is possibly because the market became saturated following a high number of IPOs last year, including tech scaleup businesses like Just Eat and Manx Telecom. 

Thetrainline.com makes its money by taking a cut of ticket sales from railway operators, and by providing digital services. Bosses at the company said they expect it to grow due to increased rail passenger numbers in the UK and plans for European expansion.

It revealed £1.4 billion of ticket sales last year, driven by its growing mobile business.

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