European tourism group TUI Travel plans to sell UK-based Specialist Group

European tourism group TUI Travel today said that it plans to sell its specialist group of adventure and education holiday brands, as part of its strategy to focus on growth and to strengthen its balance sheet.

TUI, the world's largest tour operator, will sell its UK-based Specialist Group, a provider of sailing tours and outdoor breaks.

The unit recorded sales of €1.8 billion ($2 billion) last year and operates more than 50 different brands.

The move comes a month after it agreed to sell its Hotelbeds unit to private equity firm Cinven and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for $1.35 billion in cash. (See: European tourism giant TUI to sell Hotelbeds unit for $1.35 bn) "The agreement to dispose Hotelbeds Group for €1.2 billion and confirmation today of our intention to dispose Specialist Group enables us to focus fully on our growth strategy and to strengthen our balance sheet," said group chief executive Fritz Joussen.

TUI, which today reported revenue of €6.79 billion in the six months to 31 March, said that the specialist brands did not fit with its main holiday and cruise group.

The London and Frankfurt Stock Exchange-listed company, which was formed in 2014 through the merger of UK-based TUI Travel and German majority owner TUI AG, separately said that it would acquire Canada-owned Transat's French tour operating unit for €55 million ($63 million) in order to expand the presence of its main holiday and cruise group in France.

TUI Group portfolio includes tour operators, 1,800 travel agencies and leading online portals, six airlines more than 130 aircraft, operates over 300 hotels with 210,000 beds and 13 cruise liners.

It employs around 76,000 people and has annual turnover of €20.1 billion.