Silversea chairman buys majority stake in Abercrombie & Kent

Silversea Cruises’ executive chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio has acquired a majority stake in luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent.

Lefebvre d’Ovidio has joined forces with A&K’s founder Geoffrey Kent to jointly acquire the business, which was previously owned by Chinese firm Zhonghong Holdings Group and Kent.

The deal sees Kent increase his stake in A&K to 15%, with the remaining 85% now belonging to Lefebvre d’Ovidio’s Heritage Group, which also owns his remaining shares in Silverseas Cruises.

Kent described the deal as “meant to be”. He said several “big name” companies and private equity firms had been interested in buying Zhonghong Holdings Group’s shares, but during the process for the right buyer Lefebvre d’Ovidio sold a majority share (66%) in Silversea Cruises to Royal Caribbean, giving him the capital to buy A&K.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, the pair said they would work together to “greatly accelerate” A&K’s growth, believing the brand could double or triple in size.

Kent said A&K would grow through a number of means – building more river ships and focusing more on the river cruise market; establishing more DMCs and possibly acquiring other tour operations in the future, but he said the latter was not a focus in the short-term.

He said: “Abercrombie & Kent will continue as it is but with accelerated growth. Instead of establishing one, two or three DMCs a year, we can do five or 10.

“We already have river cruise ships in Egypt, Myanmar and on the Yangtze. We want to be the first in places and we build our own ships, so we would build (more ships) locally and have the first footprint in a destination.”

When talking about potential destinations for DMC operations, he referenced recent visits to Mongolia and Bolivia, as well as highlighting A&K’s pioneering spirit to put new destinations on the map.

Lefebvre d’Ovidio added: “Geoffrey has a talent for product, sales and marketing and I am a financial mind. Together we both understand luxury travel and I’m delighted we’re going to be working alongside each other.”

“We will look at many ways to grow – to double, triple the business.”

The deal is expected to complete later this year.

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