PAI Partners, a leading European private equity firm, announces that it has sent an irrevocable offer for the acquisition of Areas, one of the global leaders in the travel catering market, from Elior Group. The contemplated transaction is in partnership with the current management team of Areas.

Areas is the #3 global leader in the travel catering market, with operations across 13 countries, throughout Europe as well as in the USA, Mexico and Chile, and over 1,900 points of sale globally. Areas welcomes 340 million customers each year, meeting the specific needs and expectations of domestic and international travellers in airports, motorway service plazas, railway stations, as well as in exhibition centres and leisure parks.

If the transaction succeeds, PAI Partners intends to support the current management team in its plans to continue to grow Areas rapidly both organically and through acquisitions. There is strong potential for new business development both in core geographies, notably in North America, and into new territories, as well as enhancement of customer satisfaction and services, and further optimisation of processes.

PAI Partners has strong relevant experience of the sector with past investments including Nuance, a leading player in the global travel retail and duty-free industry, and Swissport, the world's number one provider of ground and cargo handling services. Current investments include WFC, the world leader in air cargo freight capacity management, and B&B Hotels, a leading budget and economy hotel chain in Europe.

It would be the third acquisition from PAI Europe VII following the acquisitions of Asmodee, a leading international games publisher and distributor, and Stella Group, a leader in the French roller shutter market, as well as in metallic grills and curtains for store protection.

Fabrice Fouletier, Partner at PAI Partners, commented: “Areas is an exceptionally strong platform in the attractive travel catering market, with solid growth potential both in its current and new geographies. We would be delighted to partner with its CEO, Oscar Vela, and the current management team, and would intend to support an ambitious development strategy for the company. We look forward to helping it further reinforce its position as a global leader, should the transaction succeed.”

Oscar Vela, CEO of Areas, commented: “We look forward to working alongside PAI Partners in the next few years, should the transaction succeed. We share a common understanding of the sector and we look to benefit from their experience of growing businesses globally, as we seek to develop both organically and through acquisitions. We would also like to thank Elior Group for their support in recent years, which has positioned us well for future growth.”

Philippe Guillemot, CEO of Elior Group, commented: “Over the last few years, Areas has become the third ranked player in the global travel catering market. We are highly confident that PAI Partners would be able to support its future development and help the company accelerate its growth.”

The relevant employee works councils will be consulted in respect of the transaction and completion of the transaction will be subject to customary regulatory approvals.

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