British Travel Dotcom Eyes Sale Jackpot

Mark Kleinman, City Editor
British Travel Dotcom Eyes Sale Jackpot

One of Britain’s fastest-growing travel companies is poised to change hands in a deal that will net its owners a multi-million pound windfall.

Sky News understands that Bowmark Capital, the investment firm, is beginning a search for a buyer for the JAC Group, which supplies tour operators and travel companies with rooms in more than 7000 hotels across 550 cities.

Corporate financiers at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the professional services firm, have been appointed to handle the sale.

Bowmark, which has previously owned companies including Data Explorers, a leading provider of financial information, and the producer of Wife Swap, RDF Media, has a successful track record as an investor in fast-growing smaller companies.

It invested approximately £11m in JAC Group in 2007 in return for a majority stake, since when the company’s chief executive, Mario Bodini, has overseen a huge surge in sales, with annual increases of around 30 per cent.

Profits have also soared from £2.5m in 2009 to more than £6.5m in 2011. Insiders speculate that the company is now likely to be worth more than £75m.

The proposed sale of JAC Group comes at a time when traditional tour operators are facing structural challenges to their business model in the face of stiff competition from more nimble digital competitors. Thomas Cook, for example, came close to collapse last year amid a slump in demand for holidays in certain key markets in the wake of the Arab Spring and the Eurozone crisis.

Online aggregators of hotel rooms and package holidays have become some of the fastest-growing companies on the internet because of the travel sector’s low barriers to entry and global reach.

A spokeswoman for Bowmark declined to comment.