From the publisher: December 2017
By Bruce Piper
In these days of electronic news it is unusual for a print publication to be the first to break a major story, but we’re going to make an exception with this issue of travelBulletin. It’s been talked about for months, and isn’t a revelation to many industry insiders, but I can hereby confirm that APT Travel Group is now the two-thirds majority owner of Cruiseco.
Whispers have been circulating for some time about a shift in the Cruiseco shareholdings following the recent retirement of co-founder Steve Lloyd, who was CEO of the organisation. Lloyd established Cruiseco in July 2000 alongside Phil Hoffmann from Phil Hoffmann Travel and Kevin Dale of National Network Travel, who has also recently sold his agency.
After receiving several tip-offs about the change we looked into it, with ASIC records indicating the deal was done at the end of March 2017. At that time APT Travel Group (ATG) managing director Chris Hall was appointed as a director of Cruiseco Pty Ltd, along with ATG finance director Ross Kemp.
Interestingly, a share transfer at the same time saw APT’s holding company Cruise Investments Pty Ltd increase its Cruiseco shareholding from 50.5% to 67% — so APT was already the majority owner of the consortium. In fact Cruise Investments has held its stake in Cruiseco since July 2005, further investigations revealed. Cruise Investments Pty Ltd in turn is 75% owned by Australian Pacific Touring Pty Ltd, with the remainder held by a company associated with Phil Asker, founder of Croydon Travel and Captain’s Choice — which is also part the APT Travel Group family.
Hoffmann and Dale each retain a 16.5% stake in Cruiseco, and both are currently directors of the company alongside Asker, Kemp and Hall.
So what does it all mean for Cruiseco? Potentially nothing. As an existing long-term shareholder, clearly APT has not wielded its might to change the product mix in favour of its own cruises. What is more interesting is that the involvement of APT has not been made public previously, with recent statements — including the appointment in July of Amanda McLelland as Lloyd’s replacement — coming solely from Hoffmann and Dale.
In fact, having the strength of APT underpinning Cruiseco should provide confidence for members and suppliers — so why not make it public?
MEANWHILE we hope you enjoy our annual ‘Year in Review’ cover story in this edition. 2017 has seen lots of change and it’s been great to look at some of the big developments over the last 12 months. As always we appreciate your ongoing support. Thanks to our loyal readers travelBulletin continues to go from strength to strength, and we look forward to seeing what 2018 holds for us all!