Tui has confirmed the sale of its Travelopia division of specialist businesses to private equity firm KKR for £325 million.
The division of luxury and adventure holiday brands including Hayes & Jarvis, Jetsave, Citalia and Sunsail was put up for sale in September last year after Tui confirmed in May that it intended to dispose of the portfolio to focus on its core products.
Tui’s executive board approved the disposal in Hanover on Monday. Travelopia has a large, international customer base of over 800,000 travellers each year and serves over 70 destinations globally through its 53 brands.
Will Waggott, chief executive of Travelopia, told a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast in September that he expected the sale to be completed in the first quarter of this year, and said interest had been higher from private equity firms than trade buyers.
Speculation has been rife about the potential identity of the buyer, with sources confirming interest had been shown by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, and media reports also touting Kuoni Group.
The Travelopia unit has annual revenue of €1.171 billion and earnings before interest, tax and amortization [EBITDA] of €50 million. Tui was originally reported to be seeking a deal worth around £500 million.
The sale was confirmed ahead of Tui’s first quarter results that were reported to the City on Tuesday.
Chief executive of Tui Group, Fritz Joussen, said: “The sale of Travelopia is the next strategic step in sharpening Tui’s profile. We consistently continue to focus on becoming a vertically integrated tourism business.
“Both the Group and its shareholders benefit from the negotiated result. We have ambitious goals and want to take the Tui brand into new regions in the world in the coming years. A clear strategic direction supports this course.”
Mattia Caprioli, member and head of services at KKR Europe, said: “The high-end experiential travel market is underpinned by attractive structural growth drivers.
“These include the growing value consumers place on experiences over goods and the increasing mobility of older travelers. We believe that Travelopia is ideally positioned to benefit from these trends.
“We intend to leverage our experience in the leisure and travel sector gained through investments such as PortAventura, Get Your Guide, Trainline, Go-Jek and Apple Leisure, to support management in their strategic initiatives.”
Edouard Pillot, director and head of business services at KKR Europe, added: “KKR has a longstanding and successful track record with corporate carve-outs, in particular in Europe.
“Going forward, the company will have KKR’s full support and will be able to leverage our technology expertise as well as our global platform.
“We look forward to working with the chief executive Will Waggott and his team to support Travelopia in seizing the exciting opportunities ahead, including harnessing the potential from digital distribution and CRM and expanding its geographical reach, notably into China.”
Will Waggott, chief executive of Travelopia, said: “KKR’s experience in the sector, global reach and digital expertise make it the perfect partner for Travelopia as we continue to grow.
“We have leading brands, loyal customers, deep destination expertise and a highly committed employee base, which puts us in a strong position to address the large and growing experiential travel market opportunity.
“I am very excited about the next chapter in Travelopia’s history and what it will offer our customers.”
KKR was advised by Catalyst Partners, Rothschild, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Dentons, Deloitte & Touche, and Ernst & Young.
Crystal Ski and Thomson Lakes and Mountains were exempted from the disposal and have been integrated into Tui’s mainstream business.
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