Ponant is being sold by Bridgepoint to Artémis, the holding company of French entrepreneur Francois Pinault, who owns a number of other luxury brands.

The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

Headquartered in Marseilles, Ponant currently transports over 30,000 passengers per year to the polar regions and other locations, operating in the growing luxury cruise segment. It was acquired by Bridgepoint in 2012 from Groupe CMA CGM, the French container shipping company.

Under Bridgepoint ownership, the company has doubled sales to €140 million and tripled profits. This was achieved thanks to a combination of factors: 1) increasing and upgrading the capacity of the fleet by 11% p.a., boosted by the addition and funding of two new ships to the fleet and withdrawal of two older ones; 2) geographical expansion with opening of sales offices in China and Australia; and 3) the acquisition of TDI, a further sales distribution channel in the important North American cruise market.

Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, Co-Founder and President of Ponant, said: "We have worked well with Bridgepoint during a period of expansion for our business. In the last three years we have introduced our specialist luxury cruises to new customers, launched new ships and grown our business significantly. Today, we are entering a new period with a similar shareholder who shares our vision and ambition for Ponant within specialist luxury cruise market."

Xavier Robert, partner of Bridgepoint in Paris, said: "The transformation and progress achieved by the company have been outstanding and we are proud to have worked with the management team and contributed to its success. The planned transaction ensures the continuity of the company's ambitions with the acquisition of our interests by a likeminded long-term shareholder."