Chinese tycoon Jack Ma, others invest in $2.6b fintech with M&A plans

Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview on the sidelines of the Xin Philanthropy Conference in Hangzhou, China, on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Activist investor Dan Loeb, Chinese tycoon Jack Ma and Silver Lake joined forces to bet on the business of luxury shoppers’ tax refunds, and on the future of travelers splurging when abroad.

Global Blue SA will get $1 billion of investment from Far Point Acquisition Corp. and new investors as part of a merger that will list the combined firm on the New York Stock Exchange, according to a statement from the companies on Thursday.

Far Point was started in 2018 by Loeb’s firm and former NYSE President Thomas Farley as a “blank-check company” to acquire financial technology firms. It’ll combine with Global Blue in a deal valuing the Swiss firm at 2.3 billion euros ($2.6 billion) including debt, the companies said.

“M&A is certainly part of the strategy,” Farley said in a Bloomberg Television interview. Financial technology dealmaking has been heating up, with some of last year’s largest acquisitions taking place in the industry.

Silver Lake-owned Global Blue, a Swiss company, owns kiosks at airports and stores, like London’s Harrods, that let shoppers claim sales tax refunds when they fly home. Silver Lake agreed to buy control of Global Blue in 2012 for about 1 billion euros.

Ant Financial Services Group, part of Ma’s empire, will invest $125 million and Loeb’s Third Point will put in $100 million, according to the statement. Global Blue’s current owners, including private equity investor Silver Lake, will hold about 42% of the combined firm.

Farley will become chairman, and Global Blue Chief Executive Officer Jacques Stern will continue in his role.

“We can be very opportunistic,” Farley said. “Both Jacques and I have run public market M&A plays that have made lots and lots of money for investors and have been helpful to our customers. So that will be a part of the strategy.”

Ant Financial said in the statement that it sees a chance to expand the larger Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Alipay relationship with Global Blue around the world.

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.