Investcorp has sold Welcome Break to Appia Investments, an infrastructure investor consortium. Details of the transaction concerning the motorway services operator, which has 27 sites in the UK – 24 on motorways, were not revealed, but the deal is reported to be worth about £500m. The consortium is led by Dutch bank NIBC, and also includes global financial services organisation ING Group and Challenger Life, an investment fund run by Australian
billionaire James Packer. Private equity firm Investcorp bought Welcome Break from Granada in 1997. Welcome Break is the UK’s second-largest motorway service areas operator, with three brands: Welcome Lodge, Days Inn and Days Hotel, and attracting 80m visitors a year. Rod McKie will continue as CEO of Welcome Break and will run the group with the existing management team.
Phil Peters, an executive director of Challenger, said on behalf of the Appia Consortium: ”This acquisition demonstrates that despite turbulent markets, excellent opportunities in the infrastructure sector still exist. Welcome Break occupies a strong incumbent position in essential transport service infrastructure in the UK with opportunity to expand and enhance the services it offers to motorists.
“We have a high regard for the Welcome Break management team and the significant operational improvements they have delivered over the past few years and we look forward to working with them to develop the business further.”
James Mahoney, a member of Investcorp’s private equity team, said: “We are pleased to have concluded this transaction with the Appia Consortium. This outcome demonstrates particular strengths of Investcorp’s business model and our willingness to support portfolio companies with both capital and other resources over extended investment periods. We thank Rod McKie (CEO), Nick Wright (FD) and the rest of the senior management team of Welcome Break who have been responsible for driving the strong growth in the business over recent years.”