Scottish Unicorn Skyscanner Said to Be Exploring Sale or IPO

  • Travel search startup was last valued at more than $1 billion
  • Company declines to comment on "rumors and speculation"

Online travel search company Skyscanner Ltd. has begun exploring strategic options, including a possible sale of the company or an initial public offering, people familiar with situation said.

The Edinburgh, Scotland-based company was valued at more than 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) by investors after a financing round in January, according to documents filed with the British business registry Companies House. That made it one of just a few Scotland-based unicorns, startups with a valuation of at least $1 billion.

In addition to looking for an exit, Skyscanner has held fundraising discussions with investors, said one person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are ongoing. 

Skyscanner spokeswoman Lisa Imlach said that the company would not comment on rumors and speculation.

Founded in 2003, Skyscanner offers flight, hotel and car rental search and booking with more than 500 partners through its online search engine. In 2015, more than 35 million people used its services each month on average, generating revenue of 110 million pounds, according to the latest annual accounts available at Companies House. It has been profitable since 2009 and earned 10.6 million pounds after taxes last year.

Stuart Paterson, a partner at Scottish Equity Partners who led the firm’s early investment in Skyscanner, told Business Insider after the 128 million pound financing round this year that the company was aiming for a public stock listing in 2017. The venture capital firm declined to comment on the company’s current plans. 

Skyscanner’s other backers include Silicon Valley VC firm Sequoia Capital, London’s Artemis, Scottish asset manager Baillie Gifford, U.K. private equity firm Vitruvian Partners, Yahoo Japan Corp. and Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund.

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