Land-Based Adventure Travel and Ecotourism Leader Broadens Lindblad’s Platform and Adds World Wildlife Fund Relationship
New York, NY – Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. (“Lindblad”) (NASDAQ: LIND) today announced that it has acquired 80.1% of the outstanding common stock of Natural Habitat, Inc. (“Natural Habitat” or “Nat Hab”), a leading adventure travel and ecotourism company based in Boulder, Colorado. Natural Habitat was previously owned by Gaiam, Inc. (“Gaiam”) (NASDAQ: GAIA), a leading brand focused on wellness and fitness, and Ben Bressler, Natural Habitat’s Founder and President. Mr. Bressler will retain an ownership interest of 19.9% in Nat Hab and will continue as President of the new Lindblad subsidiary. The transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings per share, exclusive of any purchase accounting adjustments.
Natural Habitat is a leading adventure travel and ecotourism company with a focus on responsible land-based travel. Adventures include polar bear tours in Churchill, Canada, Alaskan grizzly bear adventures, small-group Galapagos tours and African safaris. Natural Habitat offers eco-conscious expeditions from Antarctica to Zambia with a multitude of adventures in between. Since 2003, Natural Habitat has partnered with World Wildlife Fund (“WWF”) to offer conservation travel, sustainable travel that directly protects nature. As part of this transaction, WWF extended the end date of this agreement from December 31, 2018 to December 31, 2023.
The acquisition of Nat Hab provides Lindblad a platform for expansion into land-based offerings with a partner that has a strong, trusted and complementary brand and a shared focus on nature and conservation. Lindblad expects to market its ship-based trips to Natural Habitat’s customer database while simultaneously marketing Natural Habitat’s offerings to its own customer database, expanding the market reach of both businesses. For the year ended December 31, 2015, Natural Habitat realized net revenues of approximately $41 million, EBITDA of approximately $3.7 million and net income of approximately $1.5 million.
Sven-Olof Lindblad, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lindblad, stated: “I’ve known and interacted with Natural Habitat and its President, Ben Bressler, for over a decade. Knowing our travel audience has diverse interests beyond sea-going expeditions, Nat Hab offers a perfect complement on land to what we do with ships. They are a focused, quality-oriented enterprise while, at the same time, understand the imperative for supporting important conservation work in areas visited from both a moral and business objective. We look forward to a productive partnership to broaden our offerings and our impact in the world’s wild places.”
Ben Bressler, Natural Habitat’s Founder and President, stated: “Natural Habitat has experienced exceptional growth over the last several years via a focus on the core business and our commitment to enhancing the value proposition of our offerings. We have developed a strong relationship with Lindblad over the years and recognize it as a leader in expedition travel. It has a clear track record of supporting and growing its brand. We are confident that we have found the right strategic partner to help evolve our business and we look forward to collaborating with Lindblad to enhance and grow the Natural Habitat brand.”
The purchase price for the 80.1% interest in Natural Habitat was approximately $20 million and was financed through a combination of cash on hand ($14.85 million), Lindblad stock ($2.65 million, or 264,208 shares) and a note (approximately $2.5 million). Gaiam’s 51% ownership interest in Natural Habitat was acquired for cash, while the shares acquired from Mr. Bressler were purchased through a combination of cash, Lindblad stock and a note. Mr. Bressler’s remaining 19.9% interest is subject to an arrangement providing for put/call rights that generally cannot be exercised, with certain exceptions, until 2020.