Hurtigruten is on the table again, according to sources familiar with the matter who could not speak on the record.
TDR, the British private equity firm which acquired Hurtigruten in the fall of 2014, is talking to three potential buyers after receiving unsolicited offers.
Since 2014, TDR has provided the capital to acquire and refurbish a new ship, the Spitsbergen. In addition, the company has refurbished four existing ships and has ordered two newbuilds with an option for two more as a business overhaul has turned the company around.
When TDR acquired Hurtigruten, the bid valued the company at approximately $884 million, with TDR taking a 90 percent interest and two existing shareholders retaining 5 percent each.
In an interview with Cruise Industry News earlier this summer, Jon Rosen, a partner in TDR Capital, said that his firm saw opportunities on several levels.
“We are believers in the adventure travel trend whereby people look for more unique experiences and more cultural content as well as being active in their free time. We think that is a growing space,” he said.
According to Rosen, Hurtigruten was profitable when it was acquired and has since then become more profitable by operating smarter, by how it manages its capacity, onboard spending and by being more responsive to what customers want.
“There are huge markets that basically do not know anything about Hurtigruten,” he said. “The brand is under-recognized in the United States and Asia. It is a brand and a heritage that ought to be much wider known. It is about once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
“For the explorer cruises, we are also thinking about broadening the places we go to – not just polar waters, but contemplating other places like the Amazon River and adventure-like places that are not polar based. People are willing to pay (more) if you provide a quality experience and access to places. They value that.”
In a May interview, Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam told Cruise Industry News: “We are going to grow on the Norwegian coast and elsewhere. It’s important for us to expand in the market where we have an important position,” said Skjeldam. “We see expansion possibilities in the Arctic and Antarctica, and other places.
“(In the future) we will be more visible as a company in the cruise industry,” Skjeldam continued. “And one that expands quite significantly.”
Hurtigruten and TDR declined to comment on the potential sale of the company.