Blackstone Plans $2 Billion IPO for Travelport

LONDON (Reuters) – Blackstone is planning to sell a stake in travel services provider Travelport sized at $2 billion equivalent, a source close to the deal said, part of an emerging trend of private equity sales.

The initial public offering, expected early in the New Year, will be listed on the London Stock Exchange and is being arranged by Barclays Capital, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and UBS, two sources familiar with the deal said.

One of the sources explained that Travelport had been pre-marketed in 2008 but never went ahead because of poor market conditions. The IPO is likely to be part of many similar deals from private equity firms who want to exit positions they entered before the financial crisis.

Blackstone bought a majority stake in the travel company from U.S. conglomerate Cendant in 2006 for $4.3 billion.

A series of IPOs are expected in the first six weeks of 2010 as sellers would prefer to use third-quarter 2009 numbers before they become outdated.

Travelport declined to comment, while Blackstone was not immediately available to comment. The banks either declined to comment or had no immediate statement. (Reporting by Alex Chambers, editing by Will Waterman) (additional reporting by Victoria Howley and Quentin Webb in London and Megan Davies in New York)