Advent sells site to Expedia

The global buyout firm backed the expansion of Italian travel site Venere, which grew quickly in two years to a size attractive to its global rival.

Expedia, the online travel site, has bought its Italian rival Venere Net from Advent International, the global buyout firm, and the site's founding partners, for an undisclosed sum.

Venere.com has established relationships with approximately 29,000 hotels and bed and breakfast properties throughout Europe and the US. The transaction will result in the addition of more than 10, 000 incremental hotel properties in Europe, the Middle East and Africa to Expedia’s global hotel offering.

Closing of the transaction is subject to competition approval in Germany.

Advent took a majority stake in Venere.com in November 2006. Under Advent's ownership, Venere has grown from being an entrepreneurial founder-led business, with a strong domestic reputation in Italy, into one of Europe's leading online reservation agencies, the firm said. 

The company has grown its portfolio of properties from 14,300 at the point of Advent's investment in 2006 to 29,000 today and has expanded its footprint into international markets, including the UK, France and the US.  Italy now accounts for only 20 percent of the business. 

Advent backed the acquisition and subsequent integration of online hotel and accommodation booking agency, Worldby.com, in February 2008.  This delivered an additional 2.5 million users, doubling its customer base since the time of the original investment and an additional  6,000 properties to its portfolio. 

This exit is the latest in a series of transactions led by Advent's Milan office.  It is their second exit in a year following the sale of Gruppo Argenta, an Italian vending machine operator in December 2007.  Advent also invested in AVIP, Italy's largest independent outdoor advertising group and was instrumental in the acquisition of Italian flagship leisure park Mirabilandia by international leisure park operator Parques Reunidos, one of Advent’s Spanish portfolio companies in 2006.