Sunday 23 October 2016

Skyscanner's 'unicorn' valuation sees Nolan stake put at €27m

Published 11/10/2015 | 02:30

Ray Nolan's stake in Skyscanner is worth around €27m
Ray Nolan's stake in Skyscanner is worth around €27m

Serial entrepreneur Ray Nolan holds a 2pc stake in flight comparison website Skyscanner, which has achieved tech 'unicorn' status after being valued at close to €1.35bn.

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Early backer Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) has appointed Goldman Sachs to sell off 10pc of the firm at a price that would make Skyscanner a technology 'unicorn' - a start-up that achieves a $1bn valuation before floating on stockmarkets.

Nolan's stake is worth around €27m, marking an extraordinary profit from an investment of under €800,000 in 2010 - a 30-fold return on his initial stake.

Nolan served as chairman of Skyscanner for three years during which time he massively increased the firm's profitability. This led to the firm being valued at €670m when Silicon Valley venture capital group Sequoia invested two years ago.

Sequoia is thought to have invested $100m in what was the biggest European dotcom deal of the year. Skyscanner, which makes the bulk of its money from airline referral fees, generated revenues of €120m in 2014, up 37pc on the previous year.

Nolan founded Hostelworld and with partner Tom Kennedy grew it into the world's biggest online hostel booking site. They sold it to Hellman Friedman for over €200m in 2009, with Nolan bagging over €100m as part of the deal.

Hostelworld has expanded rapidly since then, spending €100m to buy rival in 2013. It is now is available in 19 languages and features over 35,000 properties in 180 countries.

Last week it emerged that Hellman Friedman were planning to float Hostelworld, with the company valued at up to €340m. Hellman Friedman is said to be looking to sell down some of its majority stake in the business. Numis has been appointed to advise on the dual listing in Dublin and London.

Hostelworld parent WRI - run by Feargal Mooney - reported net revenues of €57.1m in 2013, up 10pc from the previous year with operating profits totalling €13.7m, down from €22.4m the previous year.

A Hostelworld IPO would be the latest in a series of successful Irish flotations, following recent floats by Green REIT, Applegreen, Dalata, Malin and Hibernia.

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