ECI Ventures backs Kirker MBI

The UK private equity firm has acquired the UK tour operator in a £15m transaction backed by Barclays Leveraged Finance.

ECI Ventures, the UK private equity house which closed its seventh private equity fund on £175m in 2000, has backed a management buy-in at UK holiday operator Kirker Holidays in a transaction worth around £15m.

Kirker Holidays, founded in 1986 by Christopher and Angy Kirker, sells shorts breaks to 50 destinations in Europe and the US. The firm employs 30 staff and reported turnover last year of £15m.


The management buy-in team is being led by John MacNeill, formerly of Thomson Holidays and First Choice and Ron Haylock, who has previous experience with two of ECI’s other investments in the sector, Holiday Autos and Hoseasons Holidays, which ECI acquired for £22m in 1999.


Last month ECI Ventures was tipped as a possible buyer for Leger Holidays, the UK-based coach holiday operator which was sold to 3i in a £22m deal underwritten by Royal Bank of Scotland. It was 3i’s second involvement with Leger. In 1993 the group backed a management buyout at the company before selling the business on to MyTravel in 2000.


ECI’s most recent investment in the leisure sector was the £25m management buy-in of Whitbread’s The Pelican Group and Brightreasons Group in May. Pelican and Brightreasons comprise 153 restaurants including Cafe Rouge and Bella Pasta.


In July, ECI Ventures took a 49 per cent stake in environmental consultancy firm Enviros, founded by Merlin Biosciences chairman Sir Christopher Evans in 1995