Hermes revisits hospitality sector

Hermes Private Equity has returned to the hospitality sector with a minority stake in a French holiday park operator, its first investment in the sector since it sold a hotel chain, Galaxie Hotels, in 2005.

Hermes Private Equity, the mid-market buyout arm of Hermes Pensions Management, has bought a 29.5 percent stake in Siblu, a French holiday park operator, valuing the whole business at £60 million (€89.3 million; $117 million). 

Hermes backed with debt from Barclays Leveraged Finance has invested more than £40 million to expand the business, according to Justin Ward, a director at Hermes. The firm is investing from Hermes Private Equity Partners II.

Hermes’ stake will increase by up to ten percent as Siblu draws down more of the firm’s money for acquisitions.

The management team, which remains the only other shareholder, has reinvested 100 percent of its value.  Leslie Hurst, chief executive of Siblu, said the deal provides the company with funds to buy more parks.

Ward said: “We have looked at a number of businesses in the UK over the last couple of years and this was attractive because the market in France is behind the UK market. We saw a lot of potential for growth. It is also a fragmented market. This is a big buy and build strategy for us.”

Ward said that Siblu is hoping to sign up two more holiday parks in the next two days in the South and the West Coast of France.

KPMG Corporate Finance sourced the funding and advised the management team. Deloitte and Linklaters advised Hermes.

Siblu, formerly Haven Europe, has more than 5,000 holiday homes at eight Siblu parks in France.

Hermes Private Equity has £1 billion committed to private equity. The Siblu investment is Hermes’ first in the hospitality sector since Galaxie Hotels, a European budget hotel chain, which it sold to Eurazeo in July 2005 for €383 million.