Online travel operator Secret Escapes is expanding its own horizons with the purchase of the Irish company behind Pigsback.com, the leisure discounts website.
Sky News understands that Secret Escapes Group will announce on Thursday the acquisition of Empathy Marketing Limited, one of Ireland’s leading providers of premium hospitality deals.
It will be the latest in a string of takeovers by Secret Escapes as it progresses towards an eventual stock market flotation or sale in the next couple of years.
Operating in more than 20 countries across Europe, Asia and the US, the company has 62 million members globally, with 22 million in the UK alone, it says.
Secret Escapes employs nearly 1,000 people and is on the way to becoming a British “unicorn”, the term given to technology companies which achieve valuations of at least $1bn (£773m)
Launched eight years ago, Secret Escapes was founded by Alex Saint and Tom Valentine, and has since secured backing from a string of prominent start-up investors, including Google Ventures.
Insiders said the Irish deal being announced on Thursday was being financed by the Searchlight Opportunities Fund, a new credit vehicle that helps fast-growing companies to finance acquisitions.
The fund is a division of Searchlight Capital Partners, the private equity firm which owns the Hunter brand of ‘wellies’.
Empathy Marketing’s shareholders are understood to have been informed about the deal with Secret Escapes on Wednesday.
Secret Escapes and Searchlight both declined to comment.