WMT advises on the sale of City Cruises Plc to Hornblower
WMT’s corporate advisory team advised the shareholders of the UK’s biggest tour boat operator, City Cruises PLC, on their personal financial positions during the sale of the company to Hornblower Cruises and Events.
Over the last 30 years, City Cruises has become the UK’s largest tour boat company and a respected brand in the hospitality and leisure industry. Operating on the River Thames, City Cruises York, City Cruises Poole, ThamesJet and R.S. Hispaniola, it carries three million guests each year across 20 vessels.
The deal marks the fourth major investment in a year for Hornblower Cruises and Events, a division of San Francisco-based Hornblower Group. The deal supports the company’s expansion into the highly desirable UK market.
WMT’s corporate team advised the shareholders of City Cruises, which included the chairman and chief executive of City Cruises, Gary and Rita Beckwith. Gary and Rita founded City Cruises in 1985 and will stay on as consultants for several months to assist with the transition.
Andrew Williamson, Corporate Finance Partner in WMT’s corporate advisory team, led on the deal. He was assisted on the Transaction Support matters by Graham Wintle and Corporate Tax partner, Anne-Maree Dunn. Private Client Partner, Paula Jeffs advised on the personal and inheritance tax considerations. Together they worked to guide the vendors successfully through the transaction.
The WMT team worked closely with Hill Dickinson’s London corporate team, headed by Mark Wheeler, director, who advised on the legal aspects of the transaction.
Rita Beckwith, former chief executive of City Cruises, said:
‘We are delighted to have closed on a deal which provides a great future for City Cruises’ team and customers. I would like to thank Andrew Williamson and the entire team at WMT. Both WMT and Hill Dickinson provided an excellent service which went above and beyond to help us deliver this deal. Gary and I look forward to working with Hornblower over the coming months to help transition City Cruises into its future voyages.’
Terry MacRae, chief executive of Hornblower, commented:
‘We are incredibly excited to acquire City Cruises, which we believe to be the best leisure cruise operator in Europe today. We have long had the ambition to enter the European market and it makes perfect sense to start our journey in one of the most iconic cities in the world.’
With the completion of this acquisition, Hornblower now operates a fleet of over 150 vessels offering dining cruises, overnight cruises, sightseeing, private charter, water taxi and ferry brands in the US, Canada, and now the UK.
Andrew Williamson, Corporate Finance Partner at WMT, Chartered Accountants commented:
‘WMT worked closely with the team at Hill Dickinson to ensure the transaction was delivered in a smooth fashion. City Cruises has a long trading history and it was a pleasure to work with the shareholders to deliver a suitable deal. We wish the team at City Cruises and Hornblower every success for the future.’
About Hornblower Cruises and Events
Hornblower Cruises and Events is based in Chicago and employs around 4300 shipmates, who operate a fleet of 150 vessels serving upwards of 9.8 million guests each year. The company is North America’s largest and leading provider of water-based dining, sightseeing, private charter and transportation experiences, serving 22 coveted destinations in America, Canada and the UK, including Alexandria, Baltimore, Berkley, Boston, Chicago, Long Beach, Marina Del Rey, Norfolk, Philadelphia, National Harbor, New Jersey, New York, Newport Beach, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington D.C., as well as Gananoque, and Toronto in Canada, and now London, York and Poole.
About Hornblower Group
Headquartered in San Francisco, Hornblower Group operates the official ferry boat service to Alcatraz Island, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Memorial Museum on behalf of the National Park Service as well as Hornblower Cruises and Events, NYC Ferry, American Queen Steamboat Company, Hornblower Niagara Cruises, Victory Cruises Lines, and HMS Global Maritime. The expansive portfolio reflects almost a century of sector expertise and innovation from pioneering the earliest river sightseeing tours and dining cruises to developing the revolutionary Hornblower Hybrid, a vessel powered by wind, solar and battery electricity. More information here.