Submitted by Betsy Cooper, International Editor
The last of the component part of a Tui collection that comprised tour operators, hotel bedbank, attractions and entertainment inventory to go up for sale since the company—Tui is Europe’s largest travel business—merged with its parent company in December 2014 is close to being acquired.
Up for sale/bids is TUI’s collection of 50 specialty brands that operate under the Travelopia label. They include such names as American Holidays, Citalia, Brightspark, Educatours, Gullivers Sports Travel, Grand American Adventures, Hayes & Jarvis, HTS Total Ski, Jetsave, jumpstreet, MarcoPolo, StudentCity, trekamerica and more.
Reports from Europe indicate that Tui is taking its time with the process which, it had earlier indicated, should be completed during the first half of 2017.
Among the suitors mentioned are:
—The Zurich-based Kuoni Group, which itself was acquired a year ago by EQT Partners, a private equity firm that is part of Sweden’s Wallenburg family of businesses. It was only a year ago that EQT acquired Kuoni from its Swiss owners, which included descendants of Alfred Kuoni, who started the business in 1906.
—Warburg Pincus a half-century old U.S. private equity firm based in New York with offices in Europe, Brazil, China and India. Their portfolio does not appear to include many tour or travel-related businesses.
—KKR, another New York private equity firm which only last month joined with an affiliate of Denver-based KSL Capital Partners and purchased Apple Leisure Group (which includes the operator Apple Vacations®) from Boston-based Bain Capital.
Assisting Tui in the sale is Citi. Reports indicate that Tui is seeking about €500 million ($530 million) for the business.
Aside from the capital involved, the sale will allow Tui to intensify its focus on its core activity of selling tour packages and unifying the company brand—a process that is eliminating all Tui national brands as well as the venerable First Choice and Thomson brands in the UK—by sometime this year.
Tui last year sold its Hotelbeds unit to the private equity group Cinven and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in a deal worth €1.165 billion euros ($1.32 billion).