Malta-based private jet charter company VistaJet is said to have raised $150 million in equity funding from global private equity firm Rhône Capital, at a $2.5 billion valuation.
Founded in 2004 by its chairman Thomas Flohr, VistaJet pioneered an innovative subscription business model where customers pay only for the hours they fly, free of the responsibilities and asset risks linked to aircraft ownership. VistaJet’s signature Program service offers customers a bespoke subscription of flight hours on its fleet of mid and long range jets, to fly them anywhere and at any time.
VistaJet is said to be one of the most operationally advanced companies in the sector. It has flown over 250,000 passengers to over 1,600 airports in 187 countries, or 96% of the world, making it a truly global player, with a fleet of over 70 Bombardier Private Jets.
“I am excited to partner with the Rhône team and to have Steven Langman, Co-Founder of Rhône, join VistaJet’s board of directors,” said Flohr. “With the investment announced today, the equity valuation in excess of $2.5 billion and our fully scalable technology driven business model, VistaJet is ideally placed to take advantage of the opportunities to shape the market as it further develops in the years to come.”
“We seek to invest in the leaders in any sector, and with VistaJet we have invested in the best,” said Langman. “We have closely followed Thomas and VistaJet for some time, and we are convinced that the company’s business model and global strategy give it a superior advantage in the marketplace. We share management’s vision to significantly grow the business, both organically and by acquisition, and we are prepared to make further investments, if needed, to achieve these goals. We are pleased to have invested in this dynamic industry pioneer.”
With an operations hub in Malta and main sales offices in London, Dubai, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, VistaJet has built a fleet of over 70 wholly-owned super midsized and ultra-long range aircraft, all with identical livery and design. This year, the company introduced VistaJet Direct, a new digital membership that gives customers priority access to available one-way and empty leg flights via the company’s app and website.
In the first half of 2017, VistaJet’s EBITDA is said to have grown by 32% year-on-year. The company saw a 51% growth in the total number of Subscription Program Hours sold year-on-year in the second quarter of 2017, and Program Membership revenue reached a record high of 63% of total revenue, up from 55% in the previous quarter. It also recorded a market-leading customer retention rate of 91% in the first half of 2017, the company said.
With over 20 years of investing experience, Rhône Capital and its affiliates comprise a global alternative investment management firm with approximately $5.5 billion in assets under management. The firm focuses its private equity investments in market leading businesses with a pan-European or transatlantic presence and global growth opportunities. Rhône, which is currently investing capital from its fifth private equity fund, has invested in a diversified portfolio of companies including those in the chemical, consumer product, food, packaging, specialty material, business services and transportation sectors. Rhône is headquartered in New York City, with additional offices in London and Paris.
Jefferies LLC acted as the financial advisor to VistaJet in connection with the transaction. Linklaters provided legal representation to VistaJet and the Company’s Founder.