Travel Department Turns To Private Equity

08 Feb 2018 | 09.49 am

Travel Department Turns To Private Equity

Majority stake for MML Capital Growth Partners

08 Feb 2018 | 09.49 am

MML Growth Capital Partners Ireland, a private equity fund, is to make a substantial investment in Travel Department that will give it a controlling stake in the tour operator.

Media reports suggest that MML will invest up to €12m in Travel Department, in a deal expected to be completed before the end of March this year.

MML is backed by Irish and multinational interests, including Enterprise Ireland, AIB, Cigna Corporation and the European Investment Bank.

The €125m private equity fund provides growth capital to SMEs of between €2m and €12m. MML’s portfolio includes Lowe Refrigeration, H&MV Engineering and Fastway Couriers, which was bought by the group in 2017. Its equity investment in Travel Department will be the tenth deal that MML has inked.

Headquartered in Dublin, Travel Department is one of Ireland’s biggest tour operators for guided group holidays, organising tours to more than 100 destinations around the world. It was founded in 1996 and recorded revenue of €40m last year.

Travel Department is headed up by Sara Zimmerman (pictured), who said that the firm was delighted to have found an experienced Irish investment partner in MML.

“The MML team not only shares our vision for the future of the business, but recognises the importance of continuing to put the customer at the heart of everything we do. We are also delighted that Bob Haugh, the founder of Travel Department, will remain an investor in the business,” she added.

Neil McGowan, who led the deal for MML, said that the group is backing a market leading business. “[It is] led by an experienced team with a very strong understanding of the market and their customers, and with significant ambitions for the future,” he continued.

The investment, which is subject to regulatory approval, is also supported by bank financing provided by AIB. Livingstone Partners advised the shareholders of Travel Department.

Byrne Wallace acted as legal advisers to MML, while Dillon Eustace and Osborne Clarke acted for Travel Department. BDO and PwC provided financial and tax due diligence and Armstrong TS provided commercial due diligence.

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