Professional services firms advise on majority stake in Riviera Travel

20 December 2017 4 min. read
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Silverfleet Capital has confirmed that it will take a majority stake in escorted tours operator Riviera Travel. The deal, which was advised upon by Alvarez & Marsal, Parthenon-EY, Deloitte, PwC, AJ Gallagher, Ropes & Gray, Harris Williams and Intuitus, will conclude for an undisclosed fee, following approval from regulators.

Founded in 1984, the Burton-on-Trent-based tourist company Riviera has become a leading operator of escorted tours in the over-55s market. The group provides European tour holidays, river and ocean cruises, city excursions, and long-haul tours with varied itineraries. Their offering attempts to combine leisure with education and entertainment. However, Riviera has recently been looking to diversify its range of holidays beyond the currently offered tours and cruises in 50 destinations. The firm presently attracts over 118,000 customers per year, reporting a £9.2 million profit in 2015 on turnover of £126 million in its most recent set of available accounts.

Despite this success, the firm remained hungry for further expansion, and, less than three years after founder Michael Wright sold a majority stake to Phoenix Equity Partners – valuing the operator at £120 million – the new majority owner hired the professional services firm PwC to find new investors. Now, in a transaction that will see fresh funds injected into the company, Silverfleet Capital has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Riviera Travel. While no financial terms were disclosed, the company has been tipped for as much as £250 million, when ‘For Sale’ signs first went up in June 2017.Consultancies advise on majority stake in Riviera TravelGlobal private equity firm Silverfleet, which specialises in buy-to-build, has entered into a binding contract to acquire a majority stake in Riviera. This transaction represents the sixth investment completed by Silverfleet in its current fund, and the second within Retail, Leisure & Consumer, a sector where the firm has been investing since 1990. Silverfleet’s current portfolio companies are based in Denmark, Norway, France, the UK and Germany. The Silverfleet Capital team that worked on the transaction included Gareth Whiley, Mark Piasecki, Robert Knight, Sumit Dheir and Adam Ahern, who are based in Silverfleet’s London office.

In terms of external involvement, having been brought in by Riviera to find new investors, PwC also advised on the buy-side of the deal, providing data-analytics services to Silverfleet, alongside Big Four rival Deloitte, who provided debt advisory. Meanwhile, Alvarez & Marsal supplied financial and tax advice, and strategy consultancy Parthenon-EY supported the deal with commercial advisory work. Firms also involved on the buy-side included Ropes & Gray, who provided legal, corporate and banking services, Harris Williams, who supplied M&A advisory, Intuitus, who supported IT services, and AJ Gallagher, who worked on the deal’s insurance aspects.Those involved in dealGareth Whiley, Partner at Silverfleet Capital with responsibility for Silverfleet’s investments in the Retail, Leisure & Consumer Sector said, “Riviera is a high quality, well-established business with a strong brand and value proposition. Silverfleet has long been attracted to the travel sector and the growing demographic that Riviera serves. We are excited by the prospect of working closely with the highly experienced management team and using our knowledge of the sector to help Riviera continue to develop its brand and customer base.”

David Clemson, CEO of Riviera added, “Riviera is now positioned as a premium tour operator for the over 55 year old consumer. Having managed the development of the business over the past nine years, I look forward to leading Riviera through its next phase of growth. Silverfleet Capital is a partner that comes with a significant and longstanding reputation for helping European businesses grow. I have known Gareth and the team for a long time and am convinced that with their support and substantial experience in the consumer sector we can successfully achieve our goals and develop the company further.”