Oakley in 3.6x e-commerce exit

The AIM-listed firm has sold online travel site operator Emesa for €95m after less than two years of ownership.

Oakley Capital Investments, the AIM-listed firm, said it completed the €95 millions ale of e-commerce platform Emesa Group to Netherlands-based Cyrte Investments. 

The exit represents a 3.6x return on investment, according to a statement.

Oakley Capital Private Equity, the fund advised by Oakley, originally acquired the company in March 2011 from its founders for €35 million. 

When we invested in the company it was a very entrepreneur-led type of business. We have helped a professional management team to professionalise the business.

Del Huse

Amsterdam-headquartered Emesa is an online company that provides search, comparison and booking services for a variety of travel and leisure offerings. It operates five websites, with a cumulated total of 95 million visitors per year, and counts 175 employees. 

Emesa was already a growing business when Oakley bought it, Del Huse, managing director at Oakley, told Private Equity International. Under the firm’s ownership the focus had been on taking the company to its next stage of growth. “We’ve been actively involved in supporting management’s effort in scaling up the business in the last two years: at the time we bought it Emesa was doing in excess of 700,000 transactions per annum; today they are doing well over two million,” Huse said. 

That was achieved by adapting Emesa’s processes and support functions, he explained, but also by helping the company to institutionalise. “When we invested in the company it was a very entrepreneur-led type of business. We have helped a professional management team to professionalise the business, by establishing improved corporate governance for example, and positioning Emesa to be attractive to a more institutional type of shareholder.”

Emesa is Oakley’s second divestment, following its maiden 3x exit from web-hosting company Host Europe Group in September 2010. Its last investment was the 2011 acquisition Intergenia, another web hosting business, which brought the firm’s total to nine. 
 
The firm was created in 2007 by Peter Dubens, the entrepreneur behind listed companies Pipex Communication and 365 Media group, to pursue turnaround and buy-and-build strategies in the European mid-market.

Its listed vehicle accounts for €187 million of funds committed to Oakley Private Equity, which reached its final close in November 2009 on €288 million.