Panoramic achieve third exit with the sale of Specialist Tours

Panoramic Growth Equity (“Panoramic”), a leading equity investor in fast growing, entrepreneurial companies, today announced that it has sold its stake in Specialist Tours Limited (“STL”), a niche multi-brand tour operator in a secondary buyout to Kings Park Capital (“KPC”) and management for an undisclosed sum.

The sale has generated yet another strong return on investment for Panoramic in the two and a half years since it invested in the company to deliver a roll up of niche tour operators.

Over the period of Panoramic’s investment, and under the tenure of CEO Ian Finlay, STL has purchased three trading brands and has grown and integrated all of them successfully.  Andante Travels has carved a niche in escorted archaeological tours around the world, and since its purchase in 2013 has doubled in size. Historical Trips, offering history-themed tours led by expert and celebrity historians, was added in 2014.  The archaeological base was further extended this year with the purchase of New York-based Archaeological Tours.

The investment by KPC will allow the completion of another UK-based specialist travel acquisition, and further demonstrates the capability of the management team, led by Ian Finlay, to grow a successful group of companies, with turnover now in excess of £8m.  The team have been recognised for their efforts including being winners of the ‘Best Small Company for Customer Service’ in the British Travel Awards in 2013.

The sale of STL is the third exit from Panoramic’s Enterprise Capital Fund I, following the successful sales of Cascade Technologies to Emerson Electric in 2014, and of Solfex Energy Systems to Travis Perkins in 2013.  These three exits have enabled Panoramic to return substantially in excess of all cash invested into the Fund, which held its final close in September 2010 and was oversubscribed at £34m. There are six remaining investments in the fund and the sale of STL is another important milestone as Panoramic gears up to raise its second £50m fund in 2015.

David Wilson, partner at Panoramic who stands down from the board of STL commented: “This is an example of an excellent management team delivering a clear plan professionally and efficiently.  A huge amount of work has happened to grow and integrate the acquired brands and this work will now continue under the tenure of KPC.  We wish both the management team and KPC every success in that aim, and believe this is a great example of the private equity food chain operating well to create great companies in the UK.  We would also like to thank Ian Finlay and his team for their efforts throughout the time we have been involved with the company.”

“This is another important milestone for the Panoramic team as we now head into fundraising for our second fund, the £50m Panoramic Growth Fund 2.”

Ian Finlay, CEO of STL said: “Panoramic’s investment in STL and their active role has been invaluable in helping the group to grow to where it is now.  We have grown very fast and the Panoramic team‘s deep expertise of growing businesses has helped us to achieve that in a controlled and professional way, and to put in place a platform to support the further acquisition of brands as we move forwards in 2015.  We very much look forward to the next chapter under the ownership of KPC.”

Panoramic and the Management team were advised by Pitmans LLP (legal) and Stewart Lambert at James Cowper Kreston Corporate Finance (Southampton).