MEININGER Hotel Group to be fully acquired by Holidaybreak (and announces new management team)

The owners of MEININGER Holding GmbH, a leading German hotel group in Europe providing hotel/hostel hybrids at affordable prices for the service of a hotel and the atmosphere of a hostel, announced today that they have reached an agreement to sell the remaining shares to Holidaybreak plc, a British education and activity travel group with leading positions in the UK and other major European markets.

Holidaybreak is part of Cox & Kings, the longest established travel company in the world.

ericThe terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The acquisition will be accompanied by a change in management. The present owners will leave the company.
In November 2010, Holidaybreak acquired a 50% stake in MEININGER with the option to purchase the remaining shares. The second tranche of 24% was acquired in April 2012.

The final disposal will complete the change in MEININGER’s ownership. The transaction poses an important step for MEININGER towards becoming the leader in the niche market of hotel/hostel hybrids in Europe and beyond. MEININGER increased revenues by 87% from 23.1 million euros in 2010 to 43.3 million euros in 2012. Bed capacity also rose by 55% to 6,000 beds in 2012 compared to 2010.

MEININGER’s new Managing Director (CEO) will be Navneet Bali. Navneet, who will also take on Sascha Gechter’s role as head of Development and Finance, said: “We are very excited about the potential of the business to strengthen its leadership in the niche market of hotel/hostel hybrids in Germany, across Europe and internationally.

The acquisition is about long-term growth. To meet our goals, we are immediately analysing opportunities in Paris, Copenhagen, Oslo, Rome, Florence, Venice, Madrid, Barcelona and Warsaw.We will furthermore expand in London, Amsterdam and Germany and also continue to look at acquisition opportunities.”

Eric van Dijk, who will be Chief Operating Officer taking over from Nizar Rokbani’s role as head of Sales and Operations, commented:

“The combination of MEININGER, Holidaybreak and Cox & Kings represents a natural and powerful fit as these businesses are highly complementary.We will continue to strengthen our alignment with Holidaybreak’s student travel businesses (NST, EST and Travelplus) in order to support the growth of MEININGER across Europe. We will also enhance our relationship with Cox & Kings and particularly accommodate guests from family and other value-focused international travel groups in our properties. MEININGER is a high-quality niche product. My professional experiences in this segment confirm this.”

Following the completion of the acquisition by Holidaybreak, MEININGER will continue to focus on its concept of success. Within Holidaybreak, MEININGER will operate as a self-sufficient division and remain headquartered in Berlin. The planned growth of MEININGER will be highly synergistic with Cox & Kings’ and Holidaybreak’s existing plans to expand their education and group travel offerings across international markets.

Hannes Spanring, who will be Head of Projects taking over from Oskar Kan, said: “MEININGER is uniquely positioned as a hospitality product that provides hostel type accommodation with the comfort and safety of an international standard budget hotel and this creates a unique atmosphere.
It makes it the favourite of value-focused student and family groups. This truly is a key asset and will keep MEININGER on a successful path.”

MEININGER’s new management team has extensive knowledge and experience in international markets in the sectors and niche market MEININGER plans to operate in. They all bring profound expertise and skills in the value-focused hospitality and travel industry and the right entrepreneurial spirit to take MEININGER to the next level. This will be vital and key for the further development and expansion of MEININGER.Peter Kerkar, Group CEO of Holidaybreak, commented: “MEININGER’s former executive directors and founders have done a tremendous job in growing the idea behind MEININGER and making it a leader in Germany.

We are grateful they have given us the opportunity to enter a new era at MEININGER. Our final acquisition demonstrates the confidence and trust Holidaybreak as well as Cox & Kings have in MEININGER and its skilled employees.

We are also confident that the new team will build on the strength of the existing successes to achieve our objective of making MEININGER the leader in Europe and beyond.”

The transaction is subject to approval from the German Merger Authority (Bundeskartellamt) and expected to close in April 2013.

The new management at MEININGER

NAVNEET BALI – CEO and Head of Development and Finance

Navneet Bali is a British Citizen and will be the Managing Director (CEO) of MEININGER.

In addition he will be responsible for Development and Finance at MEININGER. He joined Holidaybreak in May 2012 as Group Finance Director and Head of Corporate Development from Duet Group, a private equity firm based in the UK. At Duet he created and headed a joint venture with Intercontinental Hotels, the world’s largest hotel chain, to build Holiday Inn Express Hotels.

Previous assignments include CFO and Head of Corporate development at ebookers, a leading European online travel company and Director of HVS International, the leading hotel consulting firm. His appointment aims to help MEININGER to grow into the leading international brand in its sector. He has more than 28 years of experience in the hotel, travel and ecommerce industry.

ERIC VAN DIJK – Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Eric is a Dutch national and joins MEININGER as head of Sales and Operations – COO. He brings a wealth of experience from Generator Hostels, another leading hostel chain in Europe.

Starting in 2000 as operations manager, he took several career steps and became Managing Director in August 2007, significantly growing Generator Hostel’s capacities. In August 2012 he was promoted Director of Business Development and additionally became a member of the board of Generator Hostels. He was also on the board of StayWyse.

HANNES SPANRING – Head of Projects

Hannes Spanring is Austrian and will be the Head of Projects. He brings long-standing expertise in project management and execution having worked in national and international organisations and bodies.

He joins MEININGER from a Dutch developer where he worked as an Executive Director with responsibilities in project selection, acquisition and development of residential and commercial real estate in Austria and the Netherlands as well as project consultancy and management in the UK (London), Italy, Croatia and India.