Dublin-based car hire consolidator CarTrawler has completed a management buy-out with investment from ECI Partners.
The deal will see former Cosmos and Tui chief Richard Prosser brought in as chairman and founding brothers Greg and Niall Turley will remain as significant investors.
The pair will also retain their non-executive director and executive director roles in the business that was established in 2004 and employs 90 people mainly in Dublin but also in Seattle.
Chris Watt, director at ECI, will join the board as a result of the deal that was formally announced this morning although reports emerged in Ireland over the weekend. The value of the deal was not confirmed.
Mike McGearty, chief executive of CarTrawler, said: “We looked hard to find an investor who understood our business and would actively assist us in our global growth ambitions.
“ECI’s enthusiasm for the business and track record in the online and travel sectors gives us great confidence in the future. We look forward to working together to continue to build the largest distributor of car rental globally.”
Greg Turley, said: “CarTrawler has been an exciting journey for both Niall and I and we look forward to seeing the business continue to go from strength to strength under Mike’s leadership.
“We have built up a strong team over the last seven years and we are delighted to have found an investment partner in ECI who I feel confident can help maximize the potential of CarTrawler.”
The firm said the deal would allow it to continue to pursue “aggressive expansion plans”. This is not the first time ECI has held a stake in a car hire business it having taken a 25% share in Holiday Autos in 1995.
The investment firm is said by sources to have made 11.5 times on their original investment when Holiday Autos, founded by TWgroup chairman Clive Jacobs, was sold to Lastminte.com.
Family run business Argus Car Hire spawned CarTrawler in 2004 and the firm was sold to Irish Car Rentals three years later.
It specialises in providing technology to the trade including a car hire booking engine and claims to have inventory from 550 car hire suppliers in 175 countries worldwide.
CarTrawler reported turnover of €141 million last year, a €41 million increase on the previous year.
It is understood Mike McGearty CarTrawler’s former chief operations officer will be appointed as chief executive. Bobby Healy retains his role as chief technical officer and Niall Turley is to continue as director of supply.
Watt said: “Greg and Niall Turley have created an exceptional business in CarTrawler.
“We are delighted that Greg has agreed to continue as a non-executive director of the company and we have a great management team who we are confident will take the business on to a new level.
“ECI is a growth investor with a track record of supporting high growth online companies expanding internationally and we look forward to helping CarTrawler continue to grow across the globe.”
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