One Equity helps Carlson in $465m deal

In a $465m (€369m) transaction, the JP Morgan-backed private equity arm has partnered with Carlson Companies to help it become one of the largest travel platforms in the world.

One Equity Partners, the private equity affiliate of JPMorgan Chase & Co., has partnered with Carlson Companies to acquire Accor Group’s 50 percent share of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a worldwide travel management company.

Carlson, a global player in the hotel, restaurant, travel and cruise industries, currently owns 50 percent of CWT. Once the transaction is completed, Carlson will own 55 percent and become the majority owner. One Equity will own the remaining 45 percent.

CWT has been a joint venture of Accor and Carlson since 1997. The company designs and implements travel management programs for business clients and has operations in 150 countries, servicing 60 of the world’s 100 largest companies. Annual sales of $22 billion are generated under the CWT brand, according to Calrson. Accor, a French hotel operator and the world’s fourth biggest hotels group, said it has sold it’s share in CWT in order to pursue its core businesses, hotels and services.

A banker close to the deal told the Reuters news agency that the financing will be backed by $1.1 billion of debt, including a high-yield bond.

At the same time Carlson announced CWT will acquire its rival business travel services provider, TQ3Navigant, in a $510 million deal. That transaction will double its share of the North American travel management market to 8.9 percent, putting it behind only American Express. It will also make it second only to American Express worldwide.

One Equity Partners was absorbed in the merger between JP Morgan and Bank One, and is funded entirely by JP Morgan Chase. The firm has offices in New York, Chicago and Frankfurt, and generally writes equity cheques of between $50 million and $200 million per investment. Past deals for the firm include investments in camera maker Polaroid, pharmaceutical developer Quintiles, German packaging outfit Mauser and railroad maintenance company Progressive Rail.