TA books ‘dream’ return with travel agent

In its first fresh deal since September 2009, Permira plans to pay up to €300m for travel company eDreams.

Boston-headquartered TA Associates stands to make three times its investment on internet travel agency eDreams, having agreed to sell the European company to Permira for between €250 million and €300 million, two sources close to the deal have confirmed. It is unclear how much debt would be used to finance the transaction.

Permira and TA both declined to comment on financial details.

TA originally acquired the Barcelona-based company in 2006 for €153 million. eDreams operates in Spain, Italy and Portugal and is increasing its presence in 15 other countries, the company said in a statement. It connects consumers and travel agents with hotels, airlines and car rental companies.

Carlos Mallo, head of Permira Spain, noted in a statement that eDreams is rapidly growing in an attractive sector. “It has performed well through the downturn and has great potential for continued expansion as well as representing an excellent platform for the expected market consolidation in Europe.”

The deal is Permira's first brand new investment since September 2009, when it took specialist financial service group Just Retirement private for £228 million (€273 million; $356 million). Earlier this month, however, the firm backed existing portfolio company Birds Eye Iglo in its €850 million bolt-on acquisition of Unilever’s Findus Italy frozen food business.

The eDreams acquisition is at the smaller end of the size spectrum from Permira, but will be used as a platform for consolidation in the market, a spokesperson for the firm said.

The deal – Permira’s first in Spain since it bought fast food group Telepizza in 2006 – was led by Mallo along with Benoit Vauchy, the firm’s France head.

TA was advised by JP Morgan. Permira was advised by Linklaters and KPMG. eDreams was advised by UBS, Ashurst and Garrigues.