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Hudson Group Announces New Majority Owner

The Hudson Group has announced a new majority owner of its airport retail business.

Advent International, a global private equity firm based in Boston, is now a new owner in Hudson, with founding family members Robert and James Cohen still retaining a minority stake in the company.

Hudson Group has been privately held since its inception in 1987.

“We believe that we are entering a period of dramatically improved financial returns for Hudson,” James Cohen says.

The Cohens’ ownership of  Hudson News Co., an independent wholesaler of periodicals and books, remains unchanged.

The impetus behind the sale was Hudson Group’s desire to pursue a more aggressive growth track.

 “We selected Advent because of their specialization in retail and airport-related investments worldwide,” says Joseph DiDomizio, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “With Advent’s financial strength and industry expertise, Hudson Group will be able to take our business to an entirely new level of performance, creating tremendous opportunities for our employees, partners and customers.”

The investment by Advent will allow Hudson to embark on a higher-level growth strategy it could not have previously pursued, particularly on a global scale.

“We came to the understanding that when you have a family-owned business, it takes you to a certain point but what you really need if you plan to grow quickly is additional resources above and beyond what a family-owned business can provide,” says Laura Samuels, director of corporate communications. The company states it grew from $535M in revenue in 2006 to more than $630M this year.

Samuels says the existing management team will remain in place. Mario DiDomizio, president and founder, and Joseph DiDomizio will continue to manage the business.

“This is not a buyout where everybody is going to be gone tomorrow. The most important aspect of this deal was having Joe and Mario and this executive team stay in place,” she notes. “Advent is investing in the intelligence and expertise of this team. There is a mutual respect. They’re excited about working with our team and we’re certainly excited about mining their expertise in international retail. It is an exciting time here.”

Hudson Group operates more than 550 newsstands, bookstores, cafes and specialty retail concessions in 69 airports and transportation terminals throughout the United States and Canada, including more than 400 Hudson News stores.

About Advent International: Founded in 1984, Advent International is one of the world’s leading global private equity firms, with offices in 15 countries on four continents. Advent has built a global platform of more than 100 investment professionals across Western and Central Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia. Since inception, the firm has raised $12B in private equity capital and completed more than 200 private equity transactions valued at more than $35B in 35 countries.

Hudson is Advent International’s 10th investment in travel-related businesses – the most by any private equity firm – with activities spanning food & beverage, duty-free retail and airport concessions.

Food & beverage investments include:
–    Aerocomidas, Mexico’s leading airport restaurant and bar operator
–    Grupo RA, the No. 1 operator of restaurant concessions in Brazil’s main airports
–    La Mansión, a leading casual-dining restaurant chain in Mexico that has expanded into airports.

Advent’s duty-free investments include:
–    Dufry, a global travel retailer
–    Brasif, a Brazilian travel retail operator
–    Aeroboutiques, the largest duty-free operator in Mexico.

Investments in airport concessions include:
–    Fumisa, the commercial operator of Mexico City International (MEX)
–    Aeroplazas, commercial developer of the Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara airports
–    AMAIT, operator of the Toluca International Airport in Mexico.

Advent’s broader retail experience comprises investments in numerous specialty retail, discount retail, and food & beverage businesses around the world.

Selected investments include:
–    lululemon athletica, the premier athletic and yoga apparel specialty retailer
–    HMV, a global retailer of music, DVDs and books
–    Fat Face, a U.K. active lifestyle clothing retailer
–    Dollar Express, a U.S. single-price retailer
–    Elior, Europe’s third-largest contracted food-service business.