Electra Partners buys Travelsphere Group

Buyout firm Electra Partners Europe has agreed to acquire Travelsphere Group for a consideration of £155m (US$225m), while the enterprise value was reported to amount to £144m.

The UK-based provider of overseas escorted holidays achieved revenues of £170m in 2005.

Travelsphere has been acquired from its founders and HgCapital, another private equity firm, which has held a minority stake in Travelsphere Group since 2000.

Hutton Collins and Bank of Scotland Corporate took minority equity stakes alongside Electra Partners Europe. Bank of Scotland Corporate previously provided debt funding to support the MBO in 2000.

“I am extremely pleased with the result of the transaction,” said Ben Hewetson of HgCapital. “The IRR was strong, particularly given world events including 9/11, the Iraq war, SARS and avian flu.”

HgCapital realised about £50.1m in cash and has made about 2.5 times its investment in Travelsphere, which amounted to about £20.2m overall. Only about 20% of the £20.2m was invested at the outset of the transaction, with the rest invested about two years later.

HgCapital’s initial minority investment had valued Travelsphere at about £80m. In November 2004, HgCapital supported the add-on acquisition of Page & Moy for £10m.

On the latest transaction, Electra Partners Europe was advised by Ashurst (legal) and KPMG Corporate Finance (financial), while Travelsphere’s management team was advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance and the vendors by UBS.