BANGKOK, 7 February: Diethelm-Keller Group,
founders of Diethelm Travel, Thailand’s oldest destination management company,
have sold their remaining shares in the company to Tourasia’s Stefan Roemer and
two partners, according to a Diethelm Travel statement released last Friday.

Roemer, who currently heads Diethelm Travel as its CEO is joined by partners Thomas Maurer (Arcothai International, an exhibition, party entertainment service founded 2016) and a Swiss IT and private equity investor Gonpo Tsering. Together they have taken over the remaining shares in Diethelm Travel, a company established in 1957 that today commands a network of 13 offices in Asia.

Gonpo Tsering ( Photo Credit: Vereign.Com)

In 2017, Diethelm Travel Holdings and
Tourasia Roemer AG – the largest tour operator in Switzerland specializing in
travel to Asia – merged their Asian destination management operations.

Diethelm Travel’s statement says Stefan
Roemer, CEO of Diethelm Travel and founder of Tourasia, has been investing in
Diethelm Travel Holding AG for several years and is pleased that DK Travel
Holding AG, has agreed to sell its last shares to him and his new partners.
Details and conditions of the deal were not disclosed.

“I am excited to assume full ownership of
Diethelm Travel together with my new partners and would like to thank Diethelm
Keller Travel Holding for the great partnership over the years as well as their
trust in us to lead the business into the future successfully. I am confident
that Diethelm Travel is well-positioned to take advantage of the travel
industry taking off again in 2022,” said Roemer.

Thomas Maurer (Photo Credit:Travelnews CH)

According to Roemer, he and his partners
will take Diethelm Travel to “the new era of travel empowered with advance IT
system while staying true to our DNA as your trusted DMC in Asia.”

Backstory

Travelnews, a Swiss travel news publication,
presented the backstory that showed the Diethelm Keller Group set a course to
exit the travel industry back in 2018.

“As part of that decision, there were soon
changes in the portfolio within the group’s own travel arm DK Travel Group. In
2020, as a result of the pandemic, STA Travel went bankrupt, and Globetrotter
was repurchased by its founder. Explorer Fernreisen was also sold. As the
former head of DK Travel Group, Casper Urhammer explained to Travelnews in
December 2020 that a buyer for the shares in Diethelm Travel Group, one of the
largest Asian destination management companies, has since been sought. The
process was already underway.”

Stefan Roemer (Photo Credit: Travelnews CH)

The Swiss Asia specialist Tourasia has been
participating in an investment process since late 2017, when Tourasia founder
Stephan Roemer became CEO of the Diethelm Travel Group.

“In December 2020, Roemer told Travelnews
that he was “interested in principle” in taking over the Diethelm
Travel Group himself. Because of the pandemic, however, he was not willing to
take major financial risks at the time.

“But in 2021 the final pieces fell into
place. Even though a negotiated right of first refusal had expired, Roemer was
able to secure the entire Diethelm Travel Group by the end of December,”
according to Travelnews.

“Three investors jointly took over the DTG
shares of the Diethelm Keller Group. In addition to Tourasia Roemer AG, it
included Arcothai International Ltd, the holding company of Thomas Maurer, a
veteran Swiss tour specialist based in Bangkok. He had earlier sold his DMC
Travel Center Asia to the Diethelm Travel Group. After that development, he was
associated with the company in an advisory capacity. He is now stepping up to
the role of a co-investor.

“The third investor is Gonpo Tsering, who
according to “Bilanz” is one of the 300 richest Swiss nationals and
is credited with being the brains behind the IPOs of DKSH Holding AG and On
Shoes.

“Tsering is not only known for large IPOs
but also as a ‘deep tech investor’. For example, as an investor in companies
with innovative technology, that is probably an indication Diethelm Travel is
now taking the next step in terms of technology,” Travelnews reported.

Details of the deal, such as the price paid
for the remaining shares, the shareholding breakdown or other considerations
such as debt write-off, remain confidential.

Travelnews noted that “Roemer himself
stated he does not hold “a majority” in Diethelm Travel, but that the
three investors hold equal shares.

According to Travelnews, Roemer added:
“It was crucial for me to find partners who are willing to support the
ongoing transformation of Diethelm Travel to become a dynamic DMC.”

Roemer informed his own Tourasia management
team in Wallisellen Switzerland, about the deal on 3 February.

TravelNews concluded: “In a letter to
business partners, Roemer explains that together with the new investors,
Diethelm Travel wants to move forward “with the groove of a startup”. 

Watch this space

Could that hint of an IPO brewing further
down the track and a major shift in direction in travel tech?

The intervention of private equity investor
Gonpo Tsering offers a glimpse of the path the restructured Diethelm Travel
could take over the next three years. Both Roemer and Maurer are career tour
operators or DMC specialists. In contrast, Gonpo Tsering brings to the table
experience in IT, marketing, finance M&A, and managing large projects. He
was on the DKSH executive board for over a decade. Also, he has served as
vice-chairman of security printer Orell Füssli and chairman of luxury
watchmakers Maurice Lacroix and Bovet. He currently sits on several company
boards, including Cysec, the Go AG, Anapaya, Vereign and Dizmo.

More to the point, he is also a significant
private equity investor known for identifying promising tech startups in Europe
and Asia.

Diethelm Travel Group should enjoy the luxury of starting 2022 with a clean slate and a substantial war chest to navigate a path in travel technology that will surprise competitors.

(Sources: DTG statement, TravelNews)

For the Travelnews report visit https://www.travelnews.ch/reiseanbieter/20866-illustres-schweizer-trio-uebernimmt-die-diethelm-travel-group-vollstaendig.html