Equistone Partners Europe exits Audley Travel investment

Equistone Partners Europe exits Audley Travel investment

21 Dec 2015

Funds managed by Equistone Partners Europe (“Equistone”) have agreed to sell their majority stake in Audley Travel (“Audley”), a leading provider of tailor-made experiential travel, to 3i Group plc (“3i”). The transaction is the third successful exit from Equistone’s Fund IV.

Since Equistone’s initial investment in March 2012, Audley has demonstrated strong growth, with group revenue doubling to £165m in 2015. Equistone appointed Ian Simkins, CEO and Richard Prosser, Chairman at the time of their investment and worked alongside them and the rest of the team to strengthen Audley’s position as the clear market leader in tailor-made experiential travel.

The successful growth of Audley over this period was built upon expanding its loyal customer base whilst continuing to deliver excellent service and travel experiences to its customers. Audley successfully pursued an expansion programme into the US market through the opening of its Boston office, and has seen bookings from US customers grow from a standing start two years ago to now accounting for 10% of group business.

Over the course of Equistone’s investment, Audley has also expanded its product range by offering a variety of new destinations and experiences to clients. The company now provides travel to over 80 destinations in 6 continents.

Commenting on the investment, Phil Griesbach, Partner at Equistone, said: “Having successfully opened two new offices in London and Boston and made such positive progress in the US, the company has totally delivered on its strategy. Whilst Audley has grown dramatically during Equistone’s period of investment, the business still has significant potential which has been recognised by 3i.”

Joyce Church, Partner at Equistone, added: “Audley’s ability to deliver first class customer services and memorable experiences has strengthened its position as a leading tailor-made travel provider. The business has been able to expand both internationally and in the UK whilst retaining its culture and focus on customers. We invested behind a first class management team who has created an exceptional business and we wish them and 3i all the best in Audley’s next phase of growth.”

Ian Simkins, Chief Executive of Audley Travel, also said: “Audley has achieved significant progress over the last four years, benefiting considerably from Equistone’s backing. I look forward to developing the business further whilst continuing to provide our customers with market-leading service and tailor-made travel experiences.”

Equistone was advised on the transaction by Rothschild (M&A), Travers Smith (Legal), PwC (Financial Due Diligence) and OC&C (Commercial Due Diligence).

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