With news tonight that Silver Lake and Texas Pacific Group have teamed up to purchase Sabre, that means all three major airline reservation networks — Sabre, Travelport, and Worldspan — are owned by private equity firms. We have, in other words, an entire market category owned by private equity, which is fairly remarkable.
I can’t think of another category where this has been the case. Yellow pages, or maybe mattresses? I don’t think either made it to across-the-board private equity ownership.
More broadly, while I can see the argument in the case of yellow pages and reservation systems — annuity income — I’ve always been more puzzled by the private equity fascination with Sealy, et al. What is it that makes PE guys keep going to the mattresses?