Two heavyweights of the travel industry are banding together to acquire Abercrombie & Kent (A&K), a leading luxury tour operator founded in 1962.

Geoffrey J.W. Kent, Founder, Chairman and CEO of A&K, has formed a strategic partnership with Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Chairman of the Heritage Group, to jointly acquire 100% of Abercrombie & Kent Group of Companies SA from troubled Chinese conglomerate, Zhonghong.

D’Ovidio, who will become Chairman of Abercrombie & Kent Holding, is using Heritage Group as the acquisition vehicle, which will own 85% of A&K, and Kent who will continue as Chairman and CEO of the operating company, will own 15%.

Kent was the man behind the first luxury tented photographic safaris back in 1962 in Kenya, and has since built A&K into one of the world’s leading luxury and adventure travel companies.

D’Ovidio is responsible for turning Silversea Cruises into a leading luxury and expedition cruise line which his father founded in 1994 with the purchase of two ships, the Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. This is the second large deal for D’Ovidio who just last year agreed to sell 66% of Silversea Cruises to Royal Caribbean International.

“Abercrombie & Kent is the finest luxury travel company in the world, and I am honoured to be able to partner with Geoffrey Kent to help this remarkable company continue its record growth,” said d’Ovidio in a statement. Kent added: “I am very excited to be working with Manfredi. I cannot think of a better or more experienced partner for the next phase of A&K’s growth.”

The closing of the deal is expected to be completed later this year, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.