New player for NZ travel market

by Hannah Norton05 Oct 2015
The terms are being wrapped up for an acquisition that will bring ASX-listed company Helloworld – Australia’s largest network of franchised travel agents – to New Zealand next year.

Minter Ellison Rudd Watts has been advising Helloworld while Bell Gully has been acting for Air New Zealand.

The Minters team – led by partners Silvana Schenone and Mark Forman and assisted by Nicola Nichols (senior associate) and Harriet Blackburn (consultant) – is helping Helloworld purchase up to 10 stores from Air New Zealand.

Helloworld CEO Elizabeth Gaines said the company already had a strong presence in New Zealand with over 90 agents currently operating under the Harvey World Travel and United Travel brands.

“The opportunity to transition to a unified Helloworld brand will deliver a consolidated share of voice for our agents, as well as economies of scale for the business.”

Speaking to NZLawyer, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts M&A expert Silvana Schenone said the deal was signed on September 25, but the parties are still working towards conditions for completion.

The deal value is confidential.

“One of the interesting features about this deal is that the parties are already in an ongoing commercial relationship and so there was a desire on both sides to do a deal that worked for both of them and continued their good relationship.”

They weren’t any major hurdles in getting the deal over the line, according to Schenone.

“There are always bits and pieces to sort out in a transaction of this nature, but our client is a very experienced and pragmatic operator, and the parties cooperated with each other to achieve a good outcome.”

The firm was delighted to help another great company invest in New Zealand, she said.

“Our colleagues in Minter Ellison Australia have worked with Helloworld for some time, and we are now doing our bit in New Zealand.

“Thanks to the hardworking and pragmatic project team the sale and purchase agreement was negotiated in a relatively short space of time and we expect a smooth completion.”

Meanwhile, the M&A space hasn’t flourished as much as initially tipped at the start of 2015.

”There has been a constant flow of work in the M&A space this year but I’d say it has been slow burning and steady rather than manic,” Schenone said.

“Deals are taking some time to do with more care and caution being shown on both the buy and sell side. There is still real interest from overseas bidders in a variety of NZ businesses.”