Holiday homes

India's OYO heads for Europe with big German acquisition

OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal (left), Tobias Wann (CEO of @Leisure Group) and OYO's Chief Strategy Officer Maninder Gulati present the deal.
OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal (left), Tobias Wann (CEO of @Leisure Group) and OYO's Chief Strategy Officer Maninder Gulati present the deal.

Fast-growing Indian hotel group will become a major player in the European holiday homes market with the €369.5 million takeover of German-owned multi-brand rentals specialist @Leisure Group.

The profitable @Leisure Group is one of the leading online platforms for holiday homes in Europe. It comprises holiday home brands such as Belvilla, Dancenter and Danland which manage some 30,000 properties as well as German booking portal Traum-Ferienwohnungen, which offers more than 85,000 homes in 50 countries.

The Amsterdam-based vacation rental specialist is currently majority-owned (51%) by German media group Axel Springer, which gradually formed the group through diverse acquisitions in recent years. However, up-market brand Casamundo was already sold off last year.

OYO Hotels & Homes will pay a total of €369.5 million for @Leisure, including €180 million to Axel Springer. The deal, expected to close next month, will make OYO a major player in Europe and bring it a step closer to becoming a global brand.

Founded in 2013 by Ritesh Agarwal at the age of 19, OYO Hotels & Homes is a fast-growing Indian company which claims to be “the world’s 6th largest chain of hotels, homes and living spaces” and which has attracted funding from Japan’s SoftBank and Airbnb. It has grown to over 18,000 franchised and leased hotels worldwide, in ten countries and more than 500 cities. The bulk of these lie in India but also include China and the UK.

According to the Indian group, vacation rentals offer a “massive opportunity” worldwide, with Europe as the largest market and accounting for about 30-40% of the market. In addition, @Leisure Group “is among the very few companies in the world” with an OYO-like full-stack approach to vacation rentals management, having built deep data-driven capabilities in revenue management, homeowner engagement, and property management services.

Tobias Wann, CEO of @Leisure, will join the OYO management team as CEO Vacation Homes. He commented: “Over the past four years, @Leisure has become one of the leading providers in the European holiday home rental market. With Axel Springer, my team and I had a strong strategic partner at our side who has always supported us in our growth course. With OYO Hotels & Homes, one of the fastest growing hospitality companies in the world, we have now found a new owner who fits in very well with us and our next development phase. Together we will continue to expand our services for holiday home owners and offer guests a unique holiday experience.”

Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and Group CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes, explained: “We see vacation homes as a unique opportunity with 115,000 units of homes now getting added to our already growing count of beautiful homes.

“The @Leisure Group is a great partner and we are excited to broadbase their offerings. @Leisure Group has proven capabilities in helping develop Europe into a vacation rentals hotspot and we are keen to leverage their competencies towards ensuring beautiful vacation rental and urban homes experience for millions of tourists from every part of the world. I am particularly thrilled to welcome Tobias and team into the OYO family. It is a business decision closely aligned with our overall mission that has incredible potential.”

Andreas Wiele, President Classifieds Media at Axel Springer, added: “@Leisure Group has become one of the best integrated holiday home providers in just four years under the excellent leadership of Tobias Wann and his team. Last year it achieved a record EBITDA of more than €24 million. For OYO Hotels & Homes, it is thus a perfect platform for driving forward further consolidation in this segment. Axel Springer can now fully concentrate on the further growth of StepStone Group and AVIV Group in the Classifieds segment.”

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