Benchmark in Alphyra 'sale'

US venture capitalist Benchmark Capital has hired Powerscourt amid reports of a possible sale of its stake in Irish online payment firm Alphyra.

Benchmark, which has £1.7bn invested internationally, brought in Powerscourt last week, several months after news first broke that Alphyra was in talks with a number of investment banks about a sale of the company.

It has been reported that Alphyra originally planned to list on the London and Dublin stock markets but abandoned the idea in favour of a trade sale.

In August the company brought in NCB, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup as advisers, leading to speculation that a deal for a sale was being prepared.

Benchmark owns around 67 per cent of Alphyra – which develops secure web payment systems – and could make €400m (£278m) if a deal materialises. Benchmark paid €88m for its buyout of the firm in 2003.

Benchmark typically invests between $3m and $5m, although its stated investment range is $100,000 to $15m (£8.5m). The firm specialises in the technology sector and has stakes in companies such as videogame developer Codemasters.

The company also has a stake in Spanish firm Setanta, which along with Benchmark has been linked to a bid for live broadcast rights for Premiership football.

Powerscourt director Victoria Palmer-Moore leads the account.

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