Digital payments group TransferWise is poised to cement its status as one of Britain’s most prized technology companies by orchestrating a share sale valuing it at about $ 4bn (£3.1bn).
Sky News has learnt that TransferWise has appointed Goldman Sachs to advise on the sale of approximately $ 200m (£153m) of shares by existing investors.
The deal, if completed, will underline the company’s reputation among the UK’s tech start-ups, with a stock market flotation now likely to be on the medium-term agenda.
Sources close to the situation said the secondary share sale was at an early stage, with an announcement unlikely for some time.
TransferWise’s putative $ 4bn valuation would be more than twice the level at which it last sold new shares about 18 months ago.
The company was founded just eight years ago, but is now seeing customers transferring £3bn a month on its platform, saving themselves an estimated £3m in foreign exchange fees each day.
The two Estonian entrepreneurs behind TransferWise set the company up amid frustration about the cost of sending money overseas.
Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Kaarmann remain in key roles at the company and last year saw it make its maiden annual pre-tax profit.
Mr Hinrikus and Mr Kaarmann, who in 2017 swapped roles to become chairman and chief executive respectively, are thought to own roughly 40% of TransferWise between them – meaning that on paper they are each likely to be worth in the region of $ 800m.
One insider said there was likely to be significant demand from investors to sell at a $ 4bn valuation, although many shareholders are said to believe the company’s value will eventually soar much higher.
It was unclear this weekend whether Goldman Sachs had kicked off talks yet with prospective investors.
Existing shareholders in TransferWise include Sir Richard Branson, IVP, a Silicon Valley fund which has backed Snapchat parent Snap and Twitter.
In total, TransferWise has previously raised new funding of about $ 400m (£300m) – a significant sum for a British technology start-up.
It became a “unicorn” – a tech start-up worth at least $ 1bn – in 2015, and is now likely to be more richly valued than other British fintech pioneers such as Acorn Oaknorth, the digital bank, which recently raised hundreds of millions of pounds from SoftBank’s Vision Fund.
TransferWise has launched a string of products in the last two years, including a borderless account enabling people to move money between dozens of currencies.
The company has successfully tapped into a frenzy of international interest in the global payments industry as new technology drives down costs and improves speed and efficiency for customers.
TransferWise provides exchange rates to users which are more competitive than most traditional competitors by using an element of peer-to-peer funding to cut costs.
Instead of actually converting money, it pairs users wanting to buy a currency with those wanting to sell it, enabling them to save on often-costly fees.
TransferWise’s expansion has seen it launch into overseas markets including China and Sri Lanka, while it recently applied for a payments licence in Brussels to negate the possibility of any disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit.
The company employs 1,400 people globally, including more than 200 in London, and operates from ten offices.
TransferWise and Goldman Sachs both declined to comment this weekend.