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Equistone acquires Audley Travel

by Jonathan Braude in London  |  Published March 20, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Equistone-acquires-Audley-Travel.jpgEquistone Partners Europe Ltd., the successor firm to Barclays Private Equity Ltd., on Tuesday, March 20, announced an agreement to acquire Audley Travel Ltd., which provides tailor-made tours for individual customers. The precise enterprise value was not disclosed, but it is in the region of £90 million ($142.5 million), according to a source.

The acquisition, with debt from Audley's existing banks Barclays plc and Royal Bank of Scotland plc, will provide additional funding for the Witney, England-based travel company to invest in its niche products, team and operations.

Audley's tours range from trekking in Peru to a cultural tour of Japan. It employs 170, says it is the U.K. market leader and generated revenues of £63 million in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available. The previous year it generated £54 million in revenues.

The Equistone deal comes at a time when other parts of the travel industry, particularly in the mass-tourism and town-center travel agency sectors, have been struggling. But the source argued that Audley Travel, founded in 1996, is catering to an upscale demographic of often older travelers with the money for luxury holidays, and the market for its products is relatively price inelastic.

Equistone, which last year sold its stake in the French online travel agency Karavel-Promovacances SA for €200 million ($264 million) to LBO France, recently also put its travel-related services provider Global Blue Holdings AB on the block. Global Blue, formerly known as Global Refund, was acquired from Apax Partners LLP for €360 million in 2007 and provides Value Added Tax refunds and currency conversion services for international travelers. Equistone reportedly brought in J.P. Morgan and Evercore Partners Inc. to advise on the sale. Reuters said in February that Nyon, Switzerland-based Global Blue could fetch £600-£700 million.

Equistone's financial adviser on the Audley Travel acquisition was Deloitte, while it turned to Marlborough Partners for debt advisory services and Pinsent Masons LLP for legal advice. The vendors, Audley's founder shareholders, led by Craig Burkinshaw and John Brewer, were advised by BDO Corporate Finance and law firm Blake Lapthorn.
Tags: Apax Partners LLP | Barclays plc | Barclays Private Equity Ltd. | BDO Corporate Finance | Blake Lapthorn | Craig Burkinshaw | Delloite | Equistone Partners Europe Ltd. | Evercore Partners Inc. | Global Blue Holdings AB | Global Refund | J.P. Morgan | John Brewer | Karavel-Promovacances SA | LBO France | Pinsent Masons LLP | Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc

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