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A&K Travel Group takes a stake in Galápagos operator Ecoventura

Santiago Dunn, left, with Manfredi Lefebvre
A&K Travel Group, the owner of Abercrombie & Kent, Crystal Cruises and Cox & Kings, formed a partnership with Santiago Dunn and his Galápagos travel company, Ecoventura.

This foresees an equity investment in Ecoventura as well as the creation of a joint venture, headed by Dunn in his new role as CEO of A&K South America.

Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, co-chairman of the A&K Travel Group and honorary consul of Ecuador in Monaco, said he looks forward to strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

Ambitious expansion plans in the region

He met Dunn in 2009 and said they've gained a 'mutual respect for one another and our respective achievements, as well as our shared passion for travel.' Lefebvre added Dunn was a good partner when he ran Silversea Cruises, 'and I look forward to working with him on A&K’s ambitious expansion plans in the region.'

Geoffrey Kent, co-chairman of A&K Travel Group, recalled 'many heart-warming memories of trips to Ecuador' and said he cannot wait to go back with his children to see the incredible wildlife.

Philanthropic commitment

'Through A&K Philanthropy, we will be working to ensure that A&K and Ecoventura help to protect the islands for future generations, while supporting the local community,' Kent added. 'The Galápagenos share their natural heritage with our guests and we are committed to giving something back.'

For her part, Cristina Levis, CEO of A&K Travel Group, called Dunn a 'dear friend and a travel guru who I highly respect.' They began working together in 2012 when she led the acquisition of Ecuadorian company Canodros by Silversea.

After Levis left Silversea in 2017, she spent time with Dunn during his numerous sales trips to Europe.

'Paradise on earth'

'Those who know me well are aware that I consider Ecuador my second home and that I have missed my visits — and how warmly I was always welcomed in Guayaquil and Quito,' Levis said. 'The Galapágos Islands are a paradise on earth that I believe each person on the planet should visit at least once in their lifetime.'

Dunn, citing his respect for Lefebvre and his team's vision, combined with Kent's and A&K's worldwide reputation and the '360-degree scope and 24/7 attention to detail with Cristina Levis at the helm,' expressed confidence 'that our knowledge and experience will quickly translate into a portfolio of luxurious adventures across Latin America in partnership with local communities.'

The dealmakers

A&K Travel Group leveraged the expertise of Andrew Burrett, CFO, and Camille Drevillon, chief of staff, who have been instrumental in structuring this transaction.

Law firm Paul Hastings LLP acted for A&K Travel Group, led by London M&A partner Matthew Poxon and London associates James Waite, Sam Waite and Rohin Ghosh Dastidar. Pérez Bustamante & Ponce acted for A&K Travel Group in respect of Ecuadorian law, while Carmigniani Pérez advised Santiago Dunn and Ecoventura.