Financial News

  • 27 January 2014, 21:36

Buyout Giants Motor Towards Cartrawler Deal

A pack of private equity giants are revving up plans to bid for the owner of the Holiday Autos car rental brand in a deal that could value the business at more than 150m.

Sky News understands that Advent International, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Montagu Private Equity are among those expected to submit bids for Cartrawler ahead of a deadline early next month.

ECI Partners, the firm which owns a controlling stake in CarTrawler, a Dublin-based provider of online car rental distribution systems, has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to advise on the auction.

A sale of Cartrawler, little more than two years after it last changed hands for about 80m, would come as private equity firms attempt to exploit strong demand from rivals to deploy a vast wall of capital accumulated in recent years.

KKR's potential presence as a bidder would also underline how Wall Street's biggest investment firms are examining smaller-than-usual deal opportunities.

The giant buyout and asset management group owns companies as large as Alliance Boots, parent of Boots The Chemist, and Pets At Home, which is expected to list on the London Stock Exchange shortly.

The previous takeover of Cartrawler earned multimillion pound windfalls for Greg and Niall Turley, the brothers who founded the business and oversaw its expansion into more than 170 countries.

It is possible that ECI will decide against a sale if prospective buyers fail to meet its valuation expectations. PwC also advised ECI on its acquisition of the company.

CarTrawler announced the acquisition of the online assets of Holiday Assets earlier this summer, buying them from Travelocity Global, the immediate parent company of Lastminute.com, the online leisure bookings company.

That deal reunited ECI with Holiday Autos, which it had owned for several years before selling to Lastminute while it was a publicly-listed company in London in 2003.

CarTrawler, which has become a popular platform for companies to rent cars online, has annual bookings of around 5m vehicles, and sales of more than 425m.

ECI and the prospective bidders for Cartrawler declined to comment.

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