Cinven Offers €1,300M To Outbid EQT In Auction For Hotelbeds

27 April 2016 – Expansión

The private equity firm Cinven, which has invested heavily in Spain over the last two years, may take a leap forward if its bid for the Hotelbeds group goes ahead. TUI AG put the company up for sale at the end of 2015.

Sources close to the sales process indicate that Cinven has put an offer on the table, which values the tourism company at €1,300 million. The Nordic fund EQT is also participating in the bidding and sources do not rule out the possibility of other interested groups participating in what now seems to be the final stretch of the sales process of the Hotelbeds Group.

The company, a subsidiary of the Germany group TUI AG, works with 75,000 hotels all over the world and offers rooms to tour operators and travel agents around the globe. Hotelbeds, which receives more than 25 million hotel bookings per year, is one of the companies that emerged from the tourism sector thanks to new technologies and it has high growth projections.

Entry into the hotel segment

This would be Cinven’s first major foray into the hotel segment, but it would represent a return to the tourism business. Cinven, a fund headquartered in London, was created in 1977; it went on to acquire Amadeus in 2005, together with BC Partners.

The tourism sector’s technology provider, which was acquired from the major European airlines, was then delisted. In 2010, Cinven and BC Partners returned the company to the stock exchange and sold their shares.

Since its creation, Cinven has made acquisitions amounting to more than €70,000 million, specialising, above all, in investments with a significant technological component and always with holdings that exceed €100 million. (…).

Meanwhile, Hotelbeds has been on the market since last Autumn. Financial sources valued it at around €1,000 million. TUI had hoped to complete the sales process during the first three or four months of the year, and so a final agreement could be very close. Nevertheless, the emergence of the fund EQT in the process will intensify the Hotelbed operation.

Similarly, financial sources do not rule out that other funds may be preparing their own competitive offers.

Diversified portfolio

EQT, of Swedish origin, has assets under management of €29,000 million and its investment portfolio is very varied. In Spain, it holds stakes in two companies, Islalink and Parkia, which operate in the telecommunications and car park sectors, respectively.

EQT opened an office in Madrid in the middle of last year with the aim of looking for new investments in the Spanish and Portuguese markets. The fund hired a specialist team led by Fernando Conte, the former Chairman of Iberia and the tourism group Orizonia.

At the beginning of February, EQT bought the Swiss tourism group Kuoni for more than €1,100 million and, according to sources in the sector, it plans to integrate that business with the Hotelbeds Group.

For TUI AG, the sale of this company will mean saying goodbye to the online sector to focus on its traditional businesses: hotels and cruises. During the year to 30 September 2015, TUI AG generated revenues of more than €20,000 million, with an EBITDA of €1,069 million, up by almost 23%. Its shares closed at €13.09 on the stock exchange yesterday, up by 0.47%.

Original story: Expansión (by M.Á.Patiño and Y.Blanco)

Translation: Carmel Drake

179