Founding CEO Tom McAlpin to retire as CEO and transition to Chairman of the Board of Directors. President and CXO Nirmal Saverimuttu named CEO.
MIAMI, Sept. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Virgin Voyages (the “Company”), the multi, award-winning cruise brand from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, today announced it has closed on a $550 million capital raise to accelerate its growth plans. The funding round was led by funds managed by the Private Equity Group of Ares Management (“Ares”), a leading global alternative investment manager, and also includes additional capital from existing investors including Virgin Group and Bain Capital. The new funding raise will enable Virgin Voyages to strengthen its financial position while supporting the brand’s rapid expansion into international markets, with a relentless focus on creating an outstanding and innovative customer experience.
As Virgin Voyages looks ahead to its next phase of growth, the Company further announced that founding Chief Executive Officer, Tom McAlpin, is retiring as CEO and transitioning to the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors. He will continue to support the brand and team at an executive and industry level. Nirmal Saverimuttu, who currently serves as President and Chief Experience Officer, has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer.
“It is hard to express just how proud I am of all that the Virgin Voyages Crew has created and the strong endorsement we are receiving from Ares. We have won numerous industry awards and received many five-star reviews because of our passion for this brand,” said McAlpin. “While I will miss the day-to-day, I believe it is the right time to step aside as CEO. Nirmal is a great friend and experienced leader who lives and breathes the Virgin Voyages culture. I know he will help take this amazing brand and Crew to new heights, and I look forward to continuing to support the leadership team as Chairman.”
Virgin Voyages officially launched in August 2021 and currently operates three ships, servicing the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and by the end of the year, Australia and New Zealand. The brand is already making waves, including being named No. 1 in the mega-ship category in the 2023 Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards and a recent clean-sweep of the five cruise categories in the 2023 Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards.
“With this new investment alongside our partners at Virgin Group and Bain Capital, we believe the Company is on strong footing to capitalize on its differentiated product and value proposition in the growing cruise industry,” said Aaron Rosen, Partner and Co-Portfolio Manager of Special Opportunities in the Ares Private Equity Group. “We believe that Virgin Voyages continues to be at the forefront of industry growth, and we look forward to working with Tom, Nirmal and the entire management team on this next chapter,” added Jordan Smith, Partner in the Ares Private Equity Group.
“The success of this capital raise shows how much Virgin Voyages has achieved and how much further it can go. We are very proud of the experience that Virgin Voyages has created and continues to deliver every day across its fleet,” said Josh Bayliss, CEO of the Virgin Group. “At Virgin, we have always aimed to create extraordinary experiences and challenge the status quo while putting purpose at the core of everything we do. With Tom at the helm, Virgin Voyages has established itself as a company that can do that consistently. We are so grateful for his and the team’s leadership in creating a truly brilliant business and look forward to this next phase of the Company’s growth.”
Saverimuttu was a founding leader of Virgin Voyages and joined the business as Chief Commercial Officer in 2014 from the Virgin Group after successfully closing the first investment round. In early 2021, he took on the expanded role of President and Chief Experience Officer.
“I want to send our deepest thanks, on behalf of all our Crew and the Board, to Tom for his leadership and passion for the business. We are so grateful for all he has done and are thrilled to continue to partner with him as our Chairman,” said Saverimuttu. “Virgin Voyages is a beloved brand because of our Crew’s dedication and passion for delivering epic experiences for our guests. I am looking forward to working with the Ares team and our existing investors to deliver on our growth and expansion plans as we look ahead to our very bright future.”
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC served as exclusive financial advisor and sole placement agent to Virgin Voyages. Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel to Virgin Voyages. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as legal counsel to Ares.
About Virgin Voyages
Promising to Create an Epic Sea Change for All, Virgin Voyages is the award-winning, exclusively adult cruise line founded by Sir Richard Branson. Delivering unforgettable, relaxing vacations at sea, Virgin Voyages launched at the end of 2021. Inspired by superyacht design, its fleet of “Lady Ships” exemplify an elevated, boutique hotel at sea with contemporary spaces that strike the perfect balance of nautical chic and glamour. Currently departing from the sun-soaked cities of Miami, Barcelona and Athens – and soon to include Melbourne – the fleet offers more than 60 unique itineraries, sailing to 100 incredible ports of call. On-board, 20+ eateries feature culinary experiences from Michelin-star chefs, stylish workout spaces and group fitness classes are offered daily, and a festival-like line-up of intimate and larger-than-life shows are on the agenda. Paired with modern, tech-savvy cabins, designer suites fit for a rockstar and a mermaid-inspired spa and thermal suite, the brand is taking the industry by storm. In 2023, Virgin Voyages won Travel + Leisure’s highly coveted World’s Best Award for the best mega-ship ocean cruise line and swept the Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards – the first time a brand has won in all five categories.
About Ares Management Corporation
Ares Management Corporation is a leading global alternative investment manager offering clients complementary primary and secondary investment solutions across the credit, private equity, real estate and infrastructure asset classes. We seek to provide flexible capital to support businesses and create value for our stakeholders and within our communities. By collaborating across our investment groups, we aim to generate consistent and attractive investment returns throughout market cycles. As of June 30, 2023, Ares Management Corporation’s global platform had approximately $378 billion of assets under management, with over 2,600 employees operating across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. For more information, please visit www.aresmgmt.com.
Brittany Cash, +1 212-301-0347
SOURCE Virgin Voyages