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Loeb, Ma Invest in $2.6 Billion FinTech With M&A Plans Ahead

Amy Thomson and Sonali Basak

(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.

(Updates with Farley comments starting in fourth paragraph, Ant Financial comment in last.)

--With assistance from Vonnie Quinn and Guy Johnson.

To contact the reporters on this story: Amy Thomson in London at athomson6@bloomberg.net;Sonali Basak in New York at sbasak7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.net, Daniel Taub, Alan Mirabella

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