A busy year for currency exchange company Travelex culminated in a £440m deal to buy Thomas Cook’s financial services division, completed in March 2001 with cash from a variety of sources, including a £75m bond issue and venture capital from 3i. “It was a dream come true,” says Lloyd Dorfman, chairman and chief executive, who started the company in 1976 in a small office in Holborn. “There is an excellent fit between the two businesses and it gives us the platform to create a world-beating British company.” London-based Travelex was the first independent British operator to win a license to exchange currency in a UK airport. It now claims to be the world’s largest operator of airport exchange bureaux, with more than 300 outlets worldwide. It has diversified into corporate finance, providing a global payments service for medium-sized companies. It also offers an outsourcing service to banks to supply their customers with foreign currency and bought Transpay, the foreign currency arm of Barclays Bank, in 1999. Profits grew 74% a year, from £1.6m in 1996 to £8.6m in 1999, when sales reached £101.6m.
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