4 February 2008, Milan - Advent International, the global private equity firm, today announced that its portfolio company Venere.com has acquired the Italian online hotel and accommodation booking agency Worldby.com from the company’s management and FINB S.A. The management team at Worldby.com, led by CEO Stefano Galastri, will continue in their current roles.
The acquisition consolidates Venere.com’s position as one of Europe’s leading online reservations agencies and the Italian market leader, delivering an additional 2.5 million registered users - almost doubling its customer base since the time of Advent’s original investment in November 2006 – and adding a further 6,000 properties to its existing 20,000 throughout the world. The combined business is expecting to receive bookings worth in excess of €500 million in 2008. The online hotel reservations market is one of the fastest growing segments of the €205 billion European travel industry, in itself the largest and most attractive travel market in the world.
The acquisition is illustrative of Advent International’s highly strategic approach to consolidating markets – investing in high-growth market leaders as a platform for expansion and then working proactively with management to identify and integrate value-enhancing acquisitions.
The Worldby.com acquisition follows the recent sale of leading Italian vending machine operator Gruppo Argenta. Argenta’s exit marked the outcome of a highly successful domestic buy-and-build strategy which saw the targeting and integration of 11 acquisitions to double the company’s sales and place it at the forefront of Europe’s largest vending machine market.
Advent’s Milan office was also instrumental in the successful buy-and-build of Spanish portfolio company Parques Reunidos, leading the acquisition of Italian flagship leisure park Mirabilandia in 2006. Mirabilandia was part of an active international buy-and-build strategy which saw 7 acquisitions supported by Advent’s Paris, Frankfurt, Milan, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo deal teams.”
Venere.com was founded in Rome in 1995 by four local entrepreneurs. A first mover and leader in the Italian online hotel reservations market, the company has since grown to become one of the largest players in Europe.”
Worldby.com has achieved a high level of search engine visibility through its successful use of ‘–by’ domains, such as Scotlandby.com and Parisby.com, creating an extremely valuable online asset. The company provides a simple structure that allows customers to book accommodation online in few clicks. It also offers a high degree of personalisation that is unusual in this industry together with a wider range of accommodation than is generally offered by large online booking services.
Filippo de Vecchi, a Director in Advent International’s Milan office who sits on the Venere.com board, commented:
“Venere.com and Worldby.com enjoy very strong synergies. By bringing them together we are consolidating what is an already powerful position in the rapidly developing European online travel accommodation market. Together with management we are already looking ahead to future growth opportunities, both organic and through further acquisitions.”