A pair of private equity firms are battling to acquire control of an online aggregator which sells ferry tickets for operators including P&O and Stena Line.
Sky News understands that 3i Group and Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) are two of the frontrunners to acquire Direct Ferries.
The ferry tickets platform, which was founded in 2001, is among the world’s biggest businesses of its kind.
City sources said it was expected to command a price tag of more than £150m.
It has been part-owned by Livingbridge, another private equity house, since 2016.
Based in Blackfriars, London, it offers tickets for more than 3,000 ferry connections and covering more than 700 ports around the world.
Its most popular routes include Dover-Calais, Hull-Rotterdam and Portsmouth-Le Havre.
Bankers at Harris Williams are overseeing the sale process.
One source said a preferred bidder could be selected in the coming weeks.
Livingbridge, 3i and ICG declined to comment.