ECI Partners doubles money on travel company

ECI Partners has sold luxury holiday provider Kirker Travel in a deal that doubled its investment, netting a 22 per cent IRR over four years.

ECI Partners, a UK mid-market buy out specialist, has sold Kirker Travel, an independent provider of luxury holidays to Europe, Africa, Asia and New York, for £15.5 million (€23.2 million; $29.5 million), according to a source close to the deal. 

Buyer

Kirker: trips to Dubai

Kuoni, a global premium travel organisation, helped ECI to an internal rate of return of 22 percent or 2.1 times its original investment according to the source.

Deloitte handled the sale, which Chris Watt, a director at ECI, said was a competitive auction.  He said Kuoni came out on top in terms of finance and deliverability in this, its second acquisition in a month.  The firm recently acquired travel company Journeys of Distinction.

ECI backed the buyout of the Kirker family-owned business in 2002.  It introduced John MacNeill as managing director, Simon Vardigans as financial director and travel industry veteran, Ron Haylock, as chairman alongside the existing management team. 

Watt said:  “ECI took a bold decision in late 2002 to back Kirker in the face of the then impending conflict in Iraq and this has proven to have been a sound decision.” 

The deal follows ECI’s January sale of The Hotel and Catering Training Company to VT Group.  Other ECI investments in the sector include Hoseasons, Sunsail and Holiday Autos.

Founded in 1976 as Equity Capital for Industry, ECI specialises in buyout and buy in deals with enterprise values between £10 million and £100 million.