Monday 21 December 2015 3:22 pm

Equistone exits Audley Travel and 3i steps in with £159m investment

FTSE-listed private equity firm 3i has bought a majority stake in bespoke travel agent Audley Travel from Equistone Partners for £159m.

Equistone first invested in Audley in 2012. Since then the company's revenues have doubled to £165m, up 20 per cent in the last year. Equistone would not give a figure for the return on its initial investment.

Audley, which was founded in 1996, is headquartered in Witney, Oxfordshire and has around 380 employees. In 2014 it opened a new Boston office, which now accounts for 10 per cent of revenues.

3i has said it is backing the current management team, led by chief executive Ian Simkins, and Richard Prosser as chairman.

Tom Salmon, director at 3i, said:

Audley is an excellent fit for our investment strategy of backing mid market businesses to grow internationally. It is a market leading business which delivers outstanding service to its clients and which is capitalising on the growing demand in both the UK and the US for high quality, genuinely tailored experiential travel.

We look forward to working with Ian, Richard and the rest of the team to continue grow the business in both its existing and new markets.

While Equistone partner Phil Griesbach, said: “Having successfully opened two new offices in London and Boston and made such positive progress in the US, the company has totally delivered on its strategy. While Audley has grown dramatically during Equistone’s period of investment, the business still has significant potential which has been recognised by 3i.”