CarTrawler wins exit of the year

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Congratulations to the team at CarTrawler. ECI 9’s first exit won the mid-market exit of the year award at the British Private Equity awards last night.

In April this year ECI sold CarTrawler, the global online car rental platform, to BC Partners and Insight Venture Partners, receiving a multiple of 6x its initial investment and achieving ECI’s biggest exit by value to date.

Based in Dublin, CarTrawler is the leading global provider of multi branded car rental solutions to partners in the travel industry, including airlines, OTAs and other online travel related operators. It has over 1,000 partners, connecting end customers to more than 1,200 suppliers across 30,000 pickup locations. It also operates online car rental sites under the Holiday Autos and Argus Car Hire brands.

ECI invested in CarTrawler in May 2011, assisting the company to attract additional management talent, accelerate growth and expand its international footprint. CarTrawler’s revenues and profits have more than trebled since ECI invested and headcount has doubled as the company has expanded into new international markets. In June 2013, CarTrawler acquired the brand and online assets of Holiday Autos, another former ECI investment, to strengthen the company’s position in the direct to consumer channel.

“We are delighted to announce today the sale of CarTrawler to BC Partners. The deal represents a landmark transaction for ECI, and adds to our strong track record in supporting high growth online businesses.

“We have enjoyed a very strong and successful partnership with CarTrawler and the company’s exceptional management team. Since 2011 the business has achieved a huge amount with ECI’s support and is now a leading, global technology company and a market leader in the online car rental space.”

Chris Watt

Partner and head of ECI’s Consumer sector team

“ECI has played an important role in CarTrawler’s success, providing us with financial backing and commercial support, helping us to grow our business and accelerate its global expansion. We look forward to working with BC as we continue to grow the business internationally.”

Mike McGearty 

CarTrawler CEO

“CarTrawler has a highly talented and motivated management team who have created significant value for the exiting stakeholders. I have been incredibly proud to be the Chairman of this outstanding business for the past three years and wish all the team at CarTrawler every success as they continue to execute their exciting future growth strategy with BC Partners and Insight Ventures”

Richard Prosser

The Chairman of CarTrawler

CarTrawler marks ECI’s 5th exit in the last 12 months and is the first exit from ECI 9. Recent exits include Bargain Booze (4.5x exit multiple), Clinisys (2.5x) and Ascribe (2.1x). Other recent transactions from ECI include investments in employment law specialist Citation, escorted rail travel company Great Rail Journeys, online theatre ticket company Encore, and most recently online insurance specialist Avantia and in ATG Media, a global pioneer of webcast and timed online auction platforms.

In September ECI announced the final close for our tenth buyout fund, ECI 10, at the hard cap of £500m. ECI launched the latest fundraising in early April 2014 with a target fund size of £400m and closed at the hard cap of £500m five months later, having been significantly oversubscribed.