June 2 (Reuters) - Rental property manager Vacasa LLC said on Tuesday it raised $108 million in a financing round led by private equity firm Silver Lake, bolstering the U.S. company’s coffers as it bids to beat the economic downturn induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investment extends Silver Lake’s bet that the travel industry will rebound with the easing of lockdowns imposed to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Since the onset of the outbreak, it has also invested in home rental operator Airbnb Inc and online travel company Expedia Group Inc.
Founded in 2009, Vacasa lists, cleans and manages homes on sites like Airbnb, as well its own platform. The deal makes Silver Lake, which already owned a stake, its biggest investor: Vacasa does not disclose detailed ownership stakes.
Vacasa did not disclose its valuation in the latest round. Vacasa had raised $531.5 million beforehand, and was most recently valued at around $1 billion, according to PitchBook data. Other existing investors, including Riverwood Capital and Level Equity, also participated in the new round, it said.
“When we looked at the business going forward and the importance of having a strong balance sheet to remain on the offense as we emerge from crisis, it just made sense to bring incremental capital into the business,” Vacasa Chief Executive Matt Roberts said in an interview.
Vacasa said it had started to see a recovery in demand, with reservations in May six times higher than April levels.
“What we’re seeing when we do have markets open up, we’re really seeing volumes that are fairly comparable to last year,” Roberts said.
In March, Vacasa laid off and furloughed several hundred employees but over last few weeks has started to bring some back and expects to bring back more as the travel industry rebounds, Roberts said.
Expedia Chief Executive Peter Kern said in an earnings call last month that the recovery has so far been stronger for home rentals than for hotels. (Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)