Ropes & Gray advises Silverfleet Capital on its majority stake acquisition of escorted tours operator Riviera Travel
Ropes & Gray has advised Silverfleet Capital, the Pan-European private equity firm that specialises in buy-to-build, on its acquisition of a majority stake in Riviera Travel, a leading specialist holiday operator offering a global portfolio of escorted tours and cruises.
Founded in 1984 and based in Burton-on-Trent in the UK, Riviera is a leading operator of escorted tours with a focus on the over 55s market. The company provides European tour holidays, river and ocean cruises, city breaks, and long-haul tours with varied itineraries combining leisure with education and entertainment. Riviera continues to diversify its range of holidays and currently offers tours and cruises to 50 countries, attracting over 118,000 customers per year.
The deal is expected to complete shortly and the terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The London-based Ropes & Gray team was led by private equity partners Phil Sanderson and John Newton and finance partner Malcolm Hitching, assisted by private equity associates Electra Callan and Tarun Patel.
Commenting on the outlook for the private equity market in 2018, Phil Sanderson, private equity partner at Ropes & Gray, said:
“Funds are still being raised into an already saturated market. The market needs more good opportunities and sellers will still be in charge as a result. What is more, sellers will be able to sell a more credible story of sustained growth post downturn than in the recent past. Sellers will also want to get into the market in H1 before any certainty starts to form around Brexit. So the first half of 2018 is likely to be very strong; the second half is less clear.”
“The businesses that will continue to attract most interest in the UK will be platform businesses with scope for international expansion – all the more so given the currency fluctuation uncertainties and the desire to hedge. The consumer sector will remain weak – with the exception of resilient brands or those with market positioning that offer embedded or growth value - but I expect to see continued activity in the tech and healthcare sectors, especially devices / software.”
This is the latest deal in what has been a strong year for Ropes & Gray’s private equity team, both in London and globally. Significant deals advised by the London office in 2017 include:
- Advising Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) on the $5.3 billion consortium buyout of Visma, Europe's largest ever software buyout
- Advising Baring Private Equity Asia on its sale, alongside the Shanghai-based Bright Food Group, of British breakfast cereal brand Weetabix to US-based cereal company Post Holdings for £1.8 billion
- Advising Bain Capital on its acquisition of UK Payroll and HR businesses from NGA Human Resources
- Advising Bain Capital on its purchase of a controlling stake in MKM, the UK’s largest independent builders’ merchant.
Globally, over a two week period in early autumn alone, the firm advised its long-standing client Bain Capital on five significant deals:
- Advising Bain Capital on its $18 billion acquisition of Toshiba’s chip business. It is understood to be the largest Japanese deal since 2011, as well as both the largest private equity and leveraged finance deal ever seen in Asia.
- Advising Bain Capital on its €2.27 billion sale of Carver Korea to Unilever, a leading skincare business in North Asia
- Advising Bain Capital on its 49% sale of mushroom producer Yukiguni Maitake to a Japanese food company.
- Advising Bain Capital on its tender offer for Asatsu DK, Japan’s third largest advertising agency. The tender offer price for 100% of the company is approximately 152 billion yen, or approximately $1.38 billion – making it one of the largest buyouts in Japan this year.
- Advising Bain Capital on its acquisition of NGA UK, a leading UK-based software provider of payroll and HR solutions.