Billionaire van Vlissingen's BCD Close to `Sizable' Travel Deal

Billionaire investor John Fentener van Vlissingen says he will make a “sizable” acquisition through his closely-held travel-services company BCD Holdings NV within a month.

“We’re clearly in a market to acquire,” said 77-year-old Fentener van Vlissingen, who made his money through BCD as well as conglomerate SHV Holdings NV. He declined to identify the target, or the size of the deal, during an interview at his office in Zeist, the Netherlands.

One of BCD’s most recent acquisitions was a majority stake in Scandinavian corporate travel company Ticket Biz AB. More high-profile deals include the 2006 purchase of business-travel unit TQ3 from TUI AG, while Fentener van Vlissingen also created the third-largest U.S. travel agency when buying BTI Americas Inc. in 1998. The holding company, which has more than $15 billion in direct sales, operates subsidiaries in corporate and online travel as well as parking and airline-ticket distribution, among other businesses.

“Our driving force is that it shouldn’t be too expensive,” Fentener van Vlissingen said of potential targets in the April 11 interview. He wouldn’t be interested in companies priced at more than five times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, he said.

Fentener van Vlissingen, who has a net worth of at least $1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, started BCD in 1975 while he was working as an investment banker. He built it into a travel company with operations in 110 countries and 12,500 employees, according to its website.

InterContinental Hotels

While he is keen to make acquisitions through BCD, Fentener van Vlissingen, doesn’t want to see suitors for InterContinental Hotels Group Plc., in which he disclosed a 5 percent stake in January.

“I’ve learned you make more money by being a long-term investor,” he said. “They’ve naturally been rumored to be taken over. They could be consolidated, but I would regret it. ”  

Fentener van Vlissingen would prefer to see Buckinghamshire, U.K.-based InterContinental on the hunt for acquisitions rather than becoming a target itself, he said, although he has no plans to build his stake in the company.

Hospitality Business

The hotel group, owner of the InterContinental brand along with Holiday Inn and Kimpton, held talks with financial advisers about whether to sell itself or combine with a competitor, people with knowledge of the matter said in November.

The hospitality business is consolidating as the growth of online booking services and upstarts such as Airbnb Inc. push hotel companies to cut costs and appeal to a broader array of travelers. Marriott International Inc.’s planned $12.4 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. is the largest takeover of a hotel company since Blackstone Group LP acquired the company now known as Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. for $26 billion in 2007.

“Consolidation and knowing the travel industry were my reasons for choosing to invest in InterContinental,” Fentener van Vlissingen said “I’m a long-term player.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.
LEARN MORE