Travelstart Partners HarbourVest for Business Expansion in Africa

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Peter Uzoho

Travelstart, Africa’s largest online travel company, has announced a new partnership with global private market investment firm, HarbourVest, with $58 billion under asset management.

Under the partnership, HarbourVest wouls support Travelstart’s further expansion in geographies and growth new verticals in the continent’s $194 billion tourism and travel market.

The investment comes on the back of MTN’s Asset Realisation Programme, which meant that MTN and Travelstart would continue their commercial relationship.
“The partnership with HarbourVest is a confirmation of the future opportunity in online travel in Africa, our business and our team, Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Travelstart Group, Stephan Ekbergh, said in a statement.

However, on the heels of this deal, Travelstart continues its growth trajectory in Africa as it is set to wholly acquire the Club Travel Group, a South African travel company.
“The acquisition will boost Travelstart’s offering by adding Club Travel’s established complementary corporate and franchise divisions, creating a formidable full-service African travel group,” Country Manager, Travelstart Nigeria, Philip Akesson, said.

“The investment, coupled with the Club Travel acquisition, strengthens our overall group and will as a result help us continue to accelerate our growth in Nigeria,” Akesson added.

With the acquisition, Travelstart and Club Travel enter a co-operation which will enable the former to expand its business and reach new customers, and the latter to gain the expertise to deliver digital product innovation and remain competitive. Club Travel will continue as a standalone company within the Travelstart portfolio.
Thebe Tourism Holdings (Thebe), the majority shareholder of the Club Travel Group since 2009, will sell its stake in the Club Travel Group to Travelstart. Thebe and Travelstart will jointly invest in and own Club Travel Corporate.

The closing of the deal was subject to the approval of the Competition Commission of South Africa.

Notably, Travelstart is an online travel company founded on two basic principles; simplicity and best price. The company was founded in 1999 and operates in several countries around the world with offices in Nigeria, Egypt, UAE and South Africa. The Nigerian office which is in Lagos, opened in 2012 and focuses on making travel simple by providing an easier way to book online.

The firm has seen double-digit growth and profitability since inception and is backed by Amadeus Capital Partners and HarbourVest.

HarbourVest on its part, is an independent, global private markets investment specialist with 36 years of experience and more than $58 billion in assets under management, as of 31 December 2018. The firm’s powerful global platform offers clients investment opportunities through primary fund investments, secondary investments, and direct co-investments in commingled funds or separately managed accounts.

HarbourVest has more than 500 employees, including more than 125 investment professionals across Asia, Europe and the Americas. This global team has committed more than $35 billion to newly formed funds, completed over $19 billion in secondary purchases, and invested over $9 billion directly in operating companies.