Barclays sells International Life Leisure

Barclays Private Equity (BPE) has sold its stake in International Life Leisure Limited just 18 months after backing an MBI of the company. The UK subsidiary of Cendant, a US group, has acquired the holiday operator for an undisclosed sum. Tony Hyams, a director of BPE based in Manchester, said Barclays was extremely happy with the return on the investment, which was above target.

International Life Leisure operates self-drive holidays to France, Italy and Ireland, as well as providing ferry and Eurotunnel tickets to independent travellers. It operates under the brand names French Life, Italian Life, European Life, Irish Life and Ferrysavers.

Under the ownership of Cendant these brands will be maintained as separate businesses under their existing names. Cendant provides travel, real estate, vehicle and financial services. It is the world’s largest hotel franchiser and the world’s largest vacation ownership organisation. “We always anticipated a trade sale to a larger player and Cendant’s portfolio and growth strategy matched this well,” said Hyams.

BPE introduced a management team that will stay on under the new owners. It is led by Martin Leppard, previously European marketing director at Eurocamp, where he was part of the MBO team also backed by Barclays.

In January 2002 Barclays also appointed Roger Burnell, previously CEO of Thomson Holidays, as chairman. During the 18-month period of Barclays’ investment in International Life Leisure the company has increased bookings and turnover has risen from GBP25 million to GBP40 million.