Experience Co splashes $61.5m to buy Aussie operators

Experience Co bought Skydive Wanaka for $10.4m last year. Credit: Skydive Wanaka

One of Australasia’s most acquisitive operators has made yet another big bet splashing A$56m ($61.5m) for two operators as part of its ambition to become “the world’s largest adventure tourism company”.

Experience Co, formerly known as Skydive the Beach, is to buy Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises in Cairns and Tropical Journeys in Port Douglas, Far North Queensland.

The company has been on a buying spree over the past three years spending tens of millions of dollars snapping up operators in Australia and New Zealand. Its last move in New Zealand was the purchase of land at Pukaki Airport in Mackenzie in June, where it plans to open its fourth skydive site in this country.

Last year, it bought Skydive Wanaka for $10.4m and Performance Aviation for $500,000 and in 2015 it bought Queenstown and Glenorchy skydive company NZONE for $17m.

It spent A$20m (NZ$22m) to buy Cairns scenic flight operator, Great Barrier Reef Helicopters, in October.

Wollongong-based Experience Co told the Australian Stock Exchange last week that its latest acquisitions would be 100% funded by a fully underwritten A$60.9m equity raising.

The company said Big Cat and Tropical Journeys were “strong strategic fits for Experience Co, and the acquisition delivers on three of Experience Co’s four strategic priorities: acquisitions, diversification and efficiencies.”

Experience Co’s chief executive, Anthony Ritter, said: “The decision to acquire Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises and Tropical Journeys was a natural one for us. They are not only two of Far North Queensland’s leading tour operators but they will also help Experience Co provided more world-class experiences to customers who want to see what the region has to offer.”

The transactions are expected to be complete this month.

The company suffered a triple fatality at its skydive operation at its Mission Beach operation near Cairns in October. An investigation is underway.

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