By Patrick Whyte, Skift – Feb 12, 2019 9:00 am
The former owner of Silversea Cruises is teaming-up with the founder of Abercrombie & Kent to take control of the luxury tour operator for an undisclosed figure.
Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, through his Monaco-based Heritage Group, will own 85 percent of Abercrombie & Kent, while Geoffrey Kent, the current chairman and CEO, will take a 15 percent stake.
The pair, who are friends and live in Monaco, are buying the business from struggling Chinese property developer Zhonghong Holdings, which was delisted from the Shenzhen Stock Exchange at the end of last year.
Lefebvre sold a 66.6 percent stake in Silversea Cruises to Royal Caribbean for $1 billionand is using some of this to fund the Abercrombie & Kent acquisition, although this is a totally separate investment. He will become chairman of Abercrombie & Kent Holding.
Kent said the pair started discussing the deal back in September. Originally he had looked into private equity for financial backing, before Lefebvre decided he wanted to get involved.
“Abercrombie & Kent is a jewel and I think that the sector where it operates allows a lot of growth, and potential expansion and also consolidation,” Lefebvre told Skift.
He drew comparisons with the cruise industry, which has seen a large number of mergers in recent years.
Abercrombie & Kent has a network of destination management companies across the world with 56 offices and more than 2,500 employees.
Kent, along with his parents, founded the company in Kenya in 1962. he sees the new ownership structure brining more stability while also helping it to expand.
“We would like to open up between five and ten DMCs a year,” said Kent.
Having so many DMCs across the world gives Abercrombie & Kent much more control of the final tourism product, a key selling point in the luxury market.
“I’ve just come back from India where I did an amazing trip and not one single thing went wrong, not one one tiny thing, because we control the last mile. We control what wine you’re going to drink because we have the destination [management] company,” Kent said.
The parties expect the deal to close later this year, once it has secured various regulatory approvals.
Zhonghong Holdings sold 85% of Abercrombie & Kent to Manfredi Lefebvre d ‘Ovidio, while the remaining 15% belongs to Geoffrey Kent, both living in Monaco and have bought the business completely.
The purchase was made as they believe that the company has a future and can expand in the market over time, because it’s a network of destination management companies that is located around the world, the company was created in 1962.
- The new owners of the company aim to expand the market, positioning themselves in more countries around the world.
- The company has been in the market for some years, which allows it to be recognized worldwide as one of the main companies to manage a trip.
- Abercrombie & Kent will have control over the final tourism product, which allows it to be a key point of sale in luxury market compared to other companies that offer the same service.
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