Skift Take

The flow of Chinese investment into travel and tourism, along with other sectors, continues unabated. China is not only making its mark with outbound travelers but its money is flowing into strategic assets as well.

Luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent has entered into a deal to be acquired by Chinese tourism developer and investment group Zhonghong Holdings.

The potential acquisition marks another major international travel brand being acquired by Chinese investors and could provide additional resources for the iconic tour operator.

In a deal expected to be closed by the third quarter of 2016, Zhonghong will buy a majority of the equity interests in Abercrombie & Kent from a company owned by U.S.-based Fortress Investment Group. The latter announced earlier this month it wanted to sell its stake in the tour operator, which it has owned since 2006.

Abercrombie & Kent reportedly had $600 million in revenue in 2015 so this transaction, the terms of which were not disclosed, is likely a substantial one.

The news marks yet another acquisition of a legacy travel brand by Chinese investors, ranking in importance with Fosun International’s acquisition of Club Med in 2015 and Anbang Insurance Group’s purchase of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Anbang failed in an attempt to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts this year.

“Looking forward, the relationship with Zhonghong and their experience in real estate development and tourism positions A&K to continue to innovate by offering immersive and exhilarating experiences in uncharted destinations,” said Abercrombie & Kent founder and CEO Geoffrey Kent in a statement. “It will give us access to capital to finance new investments in the expanding luxury and adventure travel markets.”

Abercrombie & Kent, a major international luxury and adventure tour operator, currently runs tours in more than 100 countries across seven continents and has operated for more than 50 years.

Kent will retain an ownership interest in the tour operator and continue to run the company as CEO going forward.

Watch Geoffrey Kent speak at last year’s Skift Global Forum below:


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Tags: abercrombie & kent, china, mergers and acquisitions

Photo credit: A Chinese investment group is acquiring Abercrombie & Kent. Pictured are two hikers on an Abercrombie & Kent trip near the Ilulissat Icefjord fjord in western Greenland. Abercrombie & Kent

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