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Luxury travel pioneers spring surprise A&K purchase deal

February 14, 2019 Headline News No Comments

Managing director of Abercrombie & Kent Australia, Sujata Raman, had some exciting news to deliver to travel media at Sydney Opera House yesterday, at a launch of A&K’s latest program of wellness-inspired luxury small-group journeys.

She confirmed that A&K’s founder, Geoffrey Kent, the luxury travel company’s chairman and chief executive, has formed a strategic partnership with Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of Heritage group, to jointly acquire 100% of the Abercrombie & Kent Group of Companies S.A. (Abercrombie & Kent).

The union brings together two visionaries in luxury travel to further develop Abercrombie & Kent as the premier brand in luxury and experiential travel.

“This is exciting news for us,” Raman said. “It will be really interesting to see where these two luxury pioneers take us over the next few years.”

Raman made clear the deal was “nothing to do with Silversea”, despite the famous luxury cruise line having been established by Lefebvre’s father in 1994 with the purchase of two ships, Silver Cloud and Silver Wind.

A&K’s wildlife trips are renowned

Antonio Lefebvre d’Ovidio, a respected Italian jurist and maritime law professor, established Silversea. His son Manfredi Lefebvre built his father’s brainchild into a leading luxury and expedition cruise line.

Recently Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) acquired a 66% stake in Silversea Cruises. A&K is a separate and unique investment by Heritage group, led by Lefebvre, and does not involve Silversea.

Speaking in Sydney yesterday, Raman introduced to industry media acclaimed Australian stage, film and theatre actor Marta Dusseldorp, freshly returned from an A&K trip to Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique.

Geoffrey Kent, founder of Abercrombie & Kent

Dusseldorp, who travelled to Africa with her children, said the only way she was interested in seeing a place is “when I am learning about what it really happening, not what I’m told is happening”.

Commenting on the recent proliferation of luxury travel websites, Raman said A&K quite liked them, although luxury travel was not just about indulgence. Travel had to be experiential but also mindful and responsible – certainly not about “bragging rights”, a phrase Raman dislikes.

There was also mention of an amazing A&K ultimate trip coming up next year: Wildlife Safari: Around the World by Private Jet 2020.

This 25-day ultra-luxury trip is limited to 50 guests and costs from USD 139,950. Good commission if you can sell one!

Participants will circle the globe by exclusively chartered private jet and experience the true wonder of the world: diverse wildlife ranging from Madagascar’s lemurs and the placid whale sharks of the Philippines to the iconic giant panda and the endangered mountain gorilla.

Australian actor Marta Dusseldorp with managing director of Abercrombie & Kent Australia, Sujata Raman, at Sydney Opera House yesterday

A&K owes its existence to Geoffrey Kent a true travel industry pioneer and visionary. He created the first luxury tented photographic safaris in 1962 in Kenya and has built A&K into the world’s leading luxury and adventure travel company.

Kent grew up on the family farm in the Aberdare Highlands of Kenya with his parents Valerie and Colonel John Kent, and attended the then-new Duke of York School in Nairobi, which produced many of Kenya’s business and science leaders, including Richard Leakey, the famed Kenyan paleo-anthropologist, conservationist, and politician.

Geoffrey Kent is still going strong. In 2017, at the age of 74, he fathered twin babies (a boy and a girl) to his Brazilian wife, former model Otavia Kent.

Since their humble beginnings, A&K and Heritage have grown to become the dominant players in their respective fields, offering a discerning clientele the ultimate in luxury travel.

Geoffrey Kent and Manfredi Lefebvre have known each other for more than 20 years and have also been business partners, having acquired the MV Explorer in 1992.

Famed luxury travel from A&K

“Abercrombie & Kent is the finest luxury travel company in the world, and I am honoured to be able to partner with Geoffrey Kent to help this remarkable company continue its record growth,” said Manfredi Lefebvre, chairman of Heritage group.

Kent added: “I am very excited to be working with Manfredi. I cannot think of a better or more experienced partner for the next phase of A&K’s growth.”

Heritage group will own 85% of Abercrombie & Kent and Geoffrey Kent 15%. Geoffrey Kent will continue to be Chairman and CEO of the operating company, while Manfredi Lefebvre will become Chairman of Abercrombie & Kent Holding.

The closing is expected to be completed later in the year, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Barclays Bank Plc served as financial advisor to Heritage group.

Written by Peter Needham

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