Online holiday price comparison providers Icelolly has completed a 17 million pound ($26.6 million) management buyout backed by Palatine Private Equity. Bradford-based Icelolly is a holiday price comparison provider. The business also trades as an online travel agent via a series of brands, as well as selling advertising space via its site traffic and email database.
Icelolly, one of the UK’s leading online holiday price comparison providers, has completed a £17million management buyout backed by Palatine Private Equity.
Bradford-based Icelolly is a high-growth holiday price comparison provider with the main brand being Icelolly.com. The Icelolly.com holiday price comparison website offers around 40 million holiday packages from over 50 UK-based tour operators. The business also trades as an online travel agent via a series of brands, as well as selling advertising space via its site traffic and email database.
The company has enjoyed year-on-year growth since it was founded in 2005 and is expected to generate record turnover and profits in the current year.
The buyout was led by Icelolly Chief Executive Officer Dave Clayton, who has 23 years’ experience in the travel industry having spent 11 years at Global Travel before joining the company. The buyout will enable the business to continue to invest in its online network and infrastructure to take advantage of the strong market dynamics.
Palatine Partner Andy Lees and Investment Director Beth Houghton led the deal and will both join the Icelolly board as Non-Executive Directors. Chris Allen the former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of LateRooms has joined the business as non-executive Chairman.
Andy Lees, Partner at Palatine Private Equity, said: “The travel sector was an early adopter of ecommerce with more consumers researching online to find the best deals for their holidays. Icelolly is afantastic business with a strong and vibrant brand identity offering excellent value to its customers. We are really pleased to be joining the team and supporting the business through its next stage of growth.”
Dave Clayton, Chief Executive Officer at Icelolly, said: “Icelolly.com had 28 million visitors last year, andthe brand has quickly become a household name for great value holidays. We have spent the last 3 months getting to know Palatine, and they share the same vision for the future as our very experienced management team. I am delighted they have decided to invest in what promises to be a very exciting chapter in the company’s development.The company has exciting plans to add content and functionality to the site, and is planning to move to new offices to accommodate plans for growth.”
A team at Manchester-based international investment bank Altium provided corporate finance advice to Palatine, led by Managing Director Simon Lord and supported by Assistant Director Chris Hopwood and Analyst Jon Stead.
Simon Lord, Managing Director at Altium, said: “Icelolly has developed into one of the UK’s leading online holiday price comparison providers and is an essential sales channel to the travel companies and holiday goers that it serves. Palatine has identified a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on the continued growth of price comparison services. The investment will also assist to further develop Icelolly’s own online travel agency activities.”
Founders Adrian Walton and Lesley Etienne who are both exiting the business, said: “The last 8 years since we launched Icelolly.com have flown, and we have enjoyed some great times along the way. We have worked with some fantastic people, and we are confident that Dave Clayton, the management team and Palatine private equity will steer the company where it needs to go.”
Sempora provided commercial due diligence to Palatine and Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services provided financial due diligence. Partner Gregg Davison, Andy Phillips and Sarah Flinn led the team at Pinsent Masons who provided legal support to Palatine.
The Quinn Partnership carried out management due diligence with Marsh providing insurance diligence.
MSA Law and Hilton Legal provided tax and legal advice to the vendors.
Matt Peters of Maxaim provided transaction support to the managementteam and legal advice was provided by Kate Richards of Gateley LLP.
Press contact: Liam Buckley @ MC2 (0161 236 1352)
Notes to editors
About Palatine Private Equity:
Palatine Private Equity (“Palatine”) was originally known as Zeus Private Equity before rebranding in January 2011. The firm was formed in 2005 by Gary Tipper, Ed Fazakerley and Tony Dickin and closed its maiden fund inDecember 2007 at £100m. The first fund is now fully invested and the team raised their second fund of £150m in June 2013.
From offices in Manchester, London and Bristol, Palatine seeks to invest in established UK companies with enterprise values of up to £50m. The investment team looks at opportunities and provides funding for MBOs, buy and build strategies, acquisition finance, equity release and restructuring. Palatine completed its first successful exit in September 2010, generating a 4.5x return with the secondary buyout of telecommunications provider XLN Telecom, afterthree consecutive years of profit growth. Palatine’s portfolio currently comprises:
– Hallmark Hotels: a UK regional 4* hotel chain (Buy and build)
– MJ Quinn: an infrastructure services business providing electrical, mechanical and fire protection services to the London Underground and rail sector (Buyout)
– Electranet: a specialist networking services supplier, primarily to public sector organisations (Buyout)
– MoneyPlus Group: a provider of consumer financial services including Debt Management Plans, IVAs and otherfinancial solutions (Buy and build)
– Wealth at Work: a provider of financial education and employee wealth management services in the workplace (Buy and build)
– Selection Services: a provider of IT services, delivering a broad array of managed services, hosting and cloud solutions along with bespoke projects and strategic advice (Buy and build)
– Chase Templeton: a leading private medical insurance intermediary (Buy and build)
– Playnation: the leading supplier of amusement and entertainment machines and supplies to holiday parks, motorway services, bowling centres and airports (Buyout)