Sunsail and The Moorings have new ownership

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The TUI Group said it has an agreement to sell U.K.-based travel operator Travelopia, parent of Sunsail and The Moorings, to the U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co. for $403.7 million.

The International Business Times reported that Travelopia had been part of the Specialist Group and had been managed as an independent unit since TUI AG and TUI Travel merged in 2014. It was separated from TUI’s core tourism business because of its differing business models.

TUI’s decision to sell Travelopia, which the Times said has 53 brands and an international customer base of more than 800,000 annual travelers, was announced in May 2016.

“The sale of Travelopia is the next strategic step in sharpening TUI’s profile,” TUI Group CEO Fritz Joussen said in a statement. “We consistently continue to focus on becoming a vertically integrated tourism business. Both the group and its shareholders benefit from the negotiated result. We have ambitious goals and want to take the TUI brand into new regions in the world in the coming years. A clear strategic direction supports this course.”

KKR said in a statement that Travelopia is one of the world’s leading specialist travel groups, providing customers with unique experiences, such as sailing adventures, tailor-made holidays, sports tours, school expeditions, private jet travel and polar expedition cruises.

“The high-end experiential travel market is underpinned by attractive structural growth drivers,” said Mattia Caprioli, member and head of services at KKR Europe.

“These include the growing value consumers place on experiences over goods and the increasing mobility of older travelers. We believe that Travelopia is ideally positioned to benefit from these trends. We intend to leverage our experience in the leisure and travel sector gained through investments such as PortAventura, Get Your Guide, Trainline, Go-Jek and Apple Leisure to support management in their strategic initiatives.”

“KKR has a longstanding and successful track record with corporate carve-outs, in particular in Europe,” said Edouard Pillot, director and head of business services at KKR Europe.

“Going forward, the company will have KKR’s full support and will be able to leverage our technology expertise, as well as our global platform. We look forward to working with the CEO, Will Waggott, and his team to support Travelopia in seizing the exciting opportunities ahead, including harnessing the potential from digital distribution and CRM and expanding its geographical reach, notably into China.”

“KKR’s experience in the sector, global reach and digital expertise make it the perfect partner for Travelopia as we continue to grow,” Waggott said. “We have leading brands, loyal customers, deep destination expertise and a highly committed employee base, which puts us in a strong position to address the large and growing experiential travel market opportunity. I am very excited about the next chapter in Travelopia’s history and what it will offer our customers.”

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