Strong corporate governance and management skills levels will continue to make the UK travel industry a target for overseas investors, according to a panel of leading experts.
Speaking at yesterday’s first Travel Weekly Business Breakfast at the offices of The Telegraph in London, Peter Kerkar, chief executive of Cox & Kings, said levels of professionalism were higher in the UK than in any other of the 25 markets in which the company now operates.
And Audley Travel chairman Richard Prosser added: “The governance structure here is clearly attractive to overseas buyers.”
Kerkar, whose company bought Holidaybreak last year in a £320 million deal, and Prosser were joined on a panel by Iain Andrew, senior vice-president of UAE-based dnata, and Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Minoan Group.
Discussing his firm’s acquisition of online travel agent Travel Republic last year, Andrew said one of the attractive elements of the business was the expertise and intellectual property rights (IPR) it held in relation to its technology.
“We have worked with some Indian businesses but they don’t have the proven travel expertise, particularly in technology,” he said. “We are using the strengths within Travel Republic across our portfolio and we are very pleased with what’s coming out of the UK.”
Andrew said dnata’s primary competition in terms of overseas investment came from private equity and Indian investors, and Kerkar added that Chinese investors were also coming to the fore.
“If you look at the Thomas Cook Indian business, one of the only trade buyers was Chinese looking to break into India,” he said.
“There is a lot of opportunity within India’s fragmented market so there is limited outward investment, but the Chinese will definitely be on the horizon in the next one, two or three years.”
Around 100 senior delegates attended the first of what will become regular Business Breakfast events organised by Travel Weekly targeted at readers of the hugely popular daily 9am Business:am news alert.
The first event was sponsored by accountancy firm White Hart Associates.
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