Toby Edwards on Victor sale to Abu Dhabi investor
Toby Edwards, the co-CEO of Victor, the charter broker, looks tired. This is not a surprise, his wife gave birth to their second child a few months ago and at the same time he has been working on closing the sale of Victor to an undisclosed Abu Dhabi aviation investment company.
“The senior management team have been on call throughout the summer. But it is for a good cause, we obviously wanted this to happen and thrilled that it’s now over the line,” says Edwards. “I had not done M&A before, so it’s been a learning process.”
The Abu-Dhabi company has bought out investors who were mainly Victor customers as well as management. They came in 2020 when Victor’s owner, Alyssum Holdings, filed for administration.
“Our existing investors have done a fantastic job in allowing us to lay the foundations and building blocks for our next stage of growth,” says Edwards. “In order to fulfil our objective of becoming the number one on-demand charter aviation company it is great to have a single aviation-centric investor.”
How does he define becoming number one? “It is not just about the volume of flights – service and a global footprint is very important to us,” says Edwards. “We are very established in Europe and have a good presence in North America, but we will be focused on other markets including the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Countries] region.”
Victor will keep its London’s headquarters but is likely to open an office in Abu Dhabi
As well as helping the company grow, Edwards says that the investor is committed to Victor’s sustainable aviation goals. In 2018 it became the first business jet charter company to introduce compulsory carbon off-setting. It stopped this at the end of 2022 when it introduced an innovative Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) scheme with Neste. Since then, one fifth of all customers have chosen to purchase SAF for their bookings.
“In addition to the growth of flights and bookings, sustainability is really important to us and we want to continue to lead in that front by having more customers purchase sustainable aviation fuel through our programme,” says Edwards. “We want to continue to raise awareness of SAF,, help educate the wider aviation sector, not necessarily just business aviation, and show that there is appetite for consumers to credibly reduce their emissions from their flights by purchasing sustainable aviation fuel.”
Victor started the sales process over 12 months ago. They were advised by Omar Dean, founder, Odino Advisory. Edwards says there was strong interest from a range of buyers including other charter brokers and operators.
Clive Jackson, Victor’s founder and chair, is stepping down. “I plan to work with both EU and UK GOV to develop a game changing global standard and reporting framework for aviation emissions,” said Jackson in an email to customers. “This follows the strategy framework I set out in my COP26 white paper, published by an All-Party Commons Select Committee, detailing a transparent pathway to NETZERO for private and commercial aviation.”
Edwards says he is excited about the future: “I have been at Victor for 11 years now and we have had some great people here during that time – including several who are now running operators that we work with today. I believe our team is better and more aligned than it has ever been. We are only just getting started in terms of executing our vision and our ambitions to be the number one charter company and continue with our mission – a better way to fly.”
He says they are keen to celebrate the sale with a dinner for the investors who have backed the business for the last three years and the management team is also working on another three year growth plan. Edwards is also hoping to have a well-deserved holiday to catch up on sleep.