Hyatt Hotels Corporation is planning to buy travel and hospitality company Apple Leisure Group for $2.7 billion in cash. Hyatt had reportedly reached an agreement with the company's private equity owners KKR & Co. and KSL Capital Partners.
The deal, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, has been seen as the latest sign of optimism on the imminent recovery of the travel and tourism industry. Like most other travel and tourism companies, Apple Leisure's business struggled to keep afloat as the coronavirus pandemic forced countries to impose strict movement restrictions.
The acquisition is expected to greatly bolster Hyatt's already substantial resort-management portfolio. Apple Leisure is one of the country's largest chartered flights and vacation package providers, primarily providing travel services to destinations such as the Caribbean, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
Apple Leisure, which was founded in 1969, operates brands such as Secrets, Dreams and Breathless Resorts & Spa, Funjet Vacations, Southwest Vacations, United Vacations, and Blue Sky Tours.
KKR & Co. and KSL Capital Partners acquired Apple Leisure from Bain Capital in 2017 for an undisclosed amount. Since then, the company has also made several acquisitions to expand its operations. This includes a merger with The Mark Travel Corporation and a majority share acquisition of Spain's Alua Hotels and Resorts.
Hyatt said the deal is part of its efforts to shift towards a more asset-light business model. The company said the acquisition should greatly increase the percentage of its profits sourced from steady and predictable fees.
As part of its long-term transformation strategy, Hyatt reiterated its plans to sell off $1.5 billion worth of hotel real estate by the end of the year. It said it is also sticking to its goal of generating $2 billion in proceeds from hotel real estate sales by the end of 2024. The company plans to use the proceeds of the asset sales to pay down its debts.
Hyatt plans to fund its latest acquisition through a combination of cash and new debt financing. It said that it should be able to pay $1 billion in cash and the rest of the amount from new debt financing and equity financing. The company stated it has already secured a financing commitment of $1.7 billion from JP Morgan.