London-based private equity firm Vitruvian Partners has acquired UK-based OAG, the world’s leading provider of flight information schedules, from Axio Group, a portfolio company of British private equity firm Epiris Managers LLP, for $215 million.
OAG is a leading flight information company that provides timely and actionable digital information and applications to the world’s airlines, airports, government agencies and travel-related service companies. OAG has a definitive schedules database of more than 900 airlines, including 115 low-cost carriers and more than 4,000 airports. With the most extensive real-time flight status database in the market, OAG flight status database delivers 35 million flight status updates daily, and processes more than 1.4 million requests.
OAG serves a wide range of customers across the travel sector including airlines, airports, airport service providers, travel distribution players, government agencies, aircraft manufacturers, consultancies and corporate customers. Headquartered in Luton in the UK, it has operations in Boston and sales offices in North America and Asia.
The OAG business dates back to 1853 when it first published the ABC Alphabetical Railway Guide, later to inspire Agatha Christie’s novel The ABC Murders. The origin of the OAG brand dates back to 1929, when it was first published under the title “Official Aviation Guide Of The Airways.” In 1962 OAG was acquired by Dun & Bradstreet. In 1988 D&B sold OAG to Maxwell Communications. In 1993 it was acquired by Reed Elsevier, which sold OAG to Electra Partners in 2001.
This is the fifth major realization from Axio’s portfolio. British investment trust Electra Private Equity PLC (LSE: ELTA) managed by Epiris (formerly Electra Partners LLP), has received proceeds from Axio of £104 million, an uplift of £28 million or 37% and equivalent to an increase in its NAV of 60 pence per share on the valuation of Electra’s investment at September 30, 2016. The sale has increased the total cash proceeds received by Electra from its investment in Axio to more than £350 million, or 3.9x original cost, and the total return, including Electra’s investment in the remaining Axio businesses, to 4.8x original cost.
Electra is said to have received proceeds from Axia of 104 million pounds, an uplift of 37% and equivalent to an increase in its NAV of 60 pence per share on the valuation of Electra’s investment at September 30, 2016.
“OAG has grown earnings at more than 30% a year since 2013 and now has a clear strategy to continue its growth in the future,” said Alex Cooper-Evans, Partner at Epiris. “The remaining businesses, RISI and TechInsights, have been repositioned since 2013, not only strategically but also in terms of scale, with earnings having more than quadrupled.”
With more than 25 years’ experience, Epiris has invested in excess of £4.7 billion in more than 200 deals. As at September 30, 2016 the firm had funds under management of £2.2 billion including capital available for new investment of £450 million.
“Vitruvian has a deep understanding of the travel market and a strong growth orientation,” said Phil Callow, CEO of OAG. “I am excited about the next phase of OAG’s growth and look forward to working with the Vitruvian team to build on our momentum.”
“OAG is an exceptional travel technology business demonstrating good growth in a fast-changing global travel market,” said Ben Johnson, Partner at Vitruvian. “At OAG, Phil and his team have overseen the transformation of OAG from its position as a trusted source of flight schedule information into a forward-thinking, mission-critical, subscription-based, global data and analytics company, which has resulted in unprecedented growth in recent years.”
Vitruvian is an independent private equity firm which specializes in middle-market buyouts and growth capital investments. Vitruvian focuses on investing in ‘dynamic situations’ in industries characterized by growth and change such as technology & telecoms, media, business services, consumer services, financial services, life sciences and healthcare.
The firm is currently investing the Vitruvian Investment Partnership II, which closed in December 2013 at its self-imposed cap of £1 billion. The firm’s previous investments in the technology and travel-related sectors include Skyscanner, JacTravel, Callcredit Information Group, Snow Software and Just Eat. Vitruvian has offices in London, Munich, Stockholm, Luxembourg and San Francisco. The firm was founded in 2006 by former partners of Apax Partners, BC Partners and Bridgepoint Capital.