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Dealwatch: Simpson Thacher leads for KKR as opts for sale over IPO

Private equity powerhouse KKR has purchased travel ticket seller, with its go-to law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett advising on a deal that diverted the company from carrying out its announced IPO on the London Stock Exchange.

Simpson Thacher has strong ties to the private equity house in the US, with London managing partner Gregory Conway the relationship manager for KKR in the City.’s owner, UK private equity house Exponent, announced plans to list Britain’s largest online rail booking company for £500m earlier this year. However, KKR’s interest saw that plan derailed in favour of a quicker departure, with Exponent more than tripling its investment after purchasing Trainline in 2006 for £160m.

Since launching in 1999 Trainline has gone on to become the most downloaded travel app in the UK. The company has 4.7m active customers and received nearly 21m visits each month.

Travers Smith’s head of corporate Spencer Summerfield, alongside corporate partner Adrian West and US securities partner Charles Casassa, were originally instructed by Trainline to execute the IPO and were retained to handle the sale to KKR.

Herbert Smith Freehills corporate partner Chris Haynes and the firm’s global head of capital markets Steve Thierbach were enlisted by Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, the banks charged with spearheading an IPO.