A company backed by the Permira funds has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Boats Group, an online classifieds marketplace and technology provider for the recreational marine industry, from funds advised by Apax Partners.
Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.
Through its industry-leading brands – YachtWorld, Boat Trader, boats.com, Cosas De Barcos, Annonces du Bateau and Botentekoop – and integrated suite of data, marketing software and workflow tools, Boats Group’s global marketplaces connect millions of buyers and sellers of boats. Headquartered in Miami, Boats Group provides over 4,000 brokers and dealers in more than 140 countries with a comprehensive suite of technology-based marketing and software solutions, enabling them to effectively reach in-market consumers, improve their overall profitability, and manage their operations.
“Boating has never been more popular and as the foremost digital classifieds marketplace and technology provider for the industry, our growth potential has never been greater,” says Sam Fulton, CEO, Boats Group. “Apax has been a tremendous partner in our most recent phase of growth, providing leading strategies from their digital marketplace experience. As we continue to build upon this foundation, we believe that Permira is the ideal partner for our next chapter of growth given the firm’s clear strategic vision and experience supporting successful online marketplaces. Looking ahead, we are confident we will be able to deliver more value across our platform by providing our customers with enhanced solutions and offer an exceptional experience that will help consumers around the world find the boat they love.”
“Boats Group’s ability to provide boat buyers and sellers with differentiated, network-effects powered services and solutions has made it the definitive platform for the recreational boating space, attracted a very loyal customer base, and propelled stand-out growth and profitability,” says David Erlong, Principal at Permira. “The recreational marine industry is still in the very early innings of its digitisation journey with many unmet needs. We look forward to backing Sam and his team as they expand both internationally as well as into new products and services that fill these gaps to delight our consumers and customers.”
Steve Kooyers, Partner at Apax Partners, says: “When the Apax Funds carved Boats Group out of Dominion Enterprises, we saw an opportunity to accelerate growth at a well-positioned marketplace by recruiting a world class management team, investing in product innovation, and leveraging our extensive history of online classified investments. It’s been a pleasure to partner with Sam and the team to drive value for boaters, dealers, brokers and OEMs throughout North America and Europe.”
Marcelo Gigliani, Partner at Apax Partners, adds: “The team’s extraordinary execution is evidenced in Boats Group’s consistent growth in traffic and engagement, which have further reinforced its position as the clear leader in all its markets. We wish Boats Group and its team the very best in the years ahead.”
RBC Capital Markets served as financial advisor to Permira, and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP provided legal counsel. Evercore served as financial advisor to Apax Partners and Boats Group, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP provided legal counsel. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.