Bridgepoint books 2.9x on cruise operator

The sale comes as the pan-European firm continues to deploy its €4bn Bridgepoint Europe V, which reached its hard cap earlier this year.

Pan-European buyout firm Bridgepoint has agreed to sell specialist luxury cruise operator Ponant to Artémis, the holding company of French entrepreneur Francois Pinault, according to a statement from the firm.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but it is understood that the deal will generate a 2.9x return and an internal rate of return of 41 percent for Bridgepoint’s €4.84 billion Fund IV.

Bridgepoint declined to comment on financial details.

Headquartered in Marseilles, Ponant currently transports more than 30,000 passengers per year to the polar regions and other locations. Bridgepoint acquired the business in 2012 from French container shipping company Groupe CMA CGM for an undisclosed sum.

Under Bridgepoint’s ownership the company doubled sales to €140 million and tripled profits through increasing and upgrading the capacity of the fleet by 11 percent per year, opening sales offices in China and Australia, and acquiring TDI, a sales distribution channel in North America, according to the statement.

“In the last three years we have introduced our specialist luxury cruises to new customers, launched new ships and grown our business significantly,” Ponant co-founder and president Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée said in the statement. “Today, we are entering a new period with a similar shareholder who shares our vision and ambition for Ponant within specialist luxury cruise market.”

In January Bridgepoint made its final investment from Fund IV, acquiring France-based software provider eFront from technology-focused private equity firm Francisco Partners for €300 million, Private Equity International reported at the time.

In March the firm closed its fifth buyout fund on €4 billion. Bridgepoint Europe V came to market in May 2014 and exceeded its original target of €3.5 billion. The fund primarily focuses on businesses in the €150 million to €600 million enterprise value range. It concentrates on sectors and niches with strong structural growth drivers and companies benefiting from macro-economic recovery, as well as businesses suited to acquisition-led market consolidation, PEI previously reported.