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Skyscanner in new ‘sale or float’ speculation

Gareth WilliamsSkyscanner, the Edinburgh-based travel search engine, is the focus of renewed speculation about a flotation or sale.

The company has held talks with investors about another fund-raising and is believed to be looking at a number of options.

There has been talk of a sale for some time. Last October it was reported that Scottish Equity Partners was poised to sell to a sovereign wealth fund or pension fund.

SEP’s initial 40% stake has been diluted over the years to about 5%  but it is still sitting on a goldmine, having invested just  £2.5 million in the company in 2008.

Skyscanner, founded by Gareth Williams (pictured), Bonamy Grimes, and Barry Smith, is one of two so-called ‘unicorns – companies worth $1 billion – in Scotland. The other is its Quartermile neighbour FanDuel which has also been subject to flotation or merger speculation.

In January, Skyscanner raised £128 million from five new investors, including Edinburgh fund manager Baillie Gifford and joint venture partner Yahoo Japan.

Three years ago the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia invested in the company in one of its rare forays outside the US.

A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment on the latest speculation.

Skyscanner was founded in 2001 and employs more than 800 staff in ten offices around the world.

The company makes most of its money from airline referral fees. For the 12 months to the end of December 2015, it reported a 28% rise in turnover to £120m, Underlying earnings rose 5% to £22m.

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