lastminute.com Strengthens its Position in Spain

lastminute.com today
announces that it will repurchase the 70% shareholding in
lastminute.com Spain from its joint venture partner Sol Meliá. lastminute.com will pay Sol Meliá a total of ?6 million part
of which is deferred until December 2003 for its 70% shareholding.
This will enable lastminute.com to integrate lastminute.com Spain
with Travelprice Spain, acquired in July 2002, in order to leverage
fully the potential growth in the Spanish marketplace.

Spain is recognised as one of the fastest growing European online
travel markets and is projected to grow to 1.3 billion Euros by
2005. As a destination, Spain is the premier holiday market for
Europeans and strengthening lastminute.com’s presence in Spain is key
to the further growth of its position as European leader in the
online travel sector.

The enhanced strategic commercial agreement includes several
initiatives designed to extend the customer proposition and sale of
Sol Meliá hotels via the lastminute.com Group. Sol Meliá will be the
first hotel chain to add lastminute.com’s dynamic packaging
functionality to its website, solmelia.com. This will provide
real-time customised packaged tours to its customers using Sol Meliá
hotels product and lastminute.com flights product. lastminute.com
will continue to feature Sol Meliá products in its dynamic packaging
functionality and its hotel search engine and will develop special
promotions and pages on its global sites.

Brent Hoberman
, CEO, lastminute.com said: “The repurchase of
lastminute.com Spain will allow us to fully integrate our businesses
in Spain and more aggressively target the Spanish market growth
opportunity. The enhancement of our relationship with Sol Meliá will
help us accelerate our global hotel and dynamic packaging offering
and deliver even more great value deals to our customers.”

Commenting on the new deal Sebastian Escarrer, Vice President and CEO
of Sol Meliá, said: “We have established a strong relationship with
lastminute.com since our initial agreement in August 2001 and are
delighted to be able to extend it further. Sol Meliá is strategically
focused on maximising revenue through the rationalisation of its
distribution channels. This strategy is clearly paying off as our
online sales have increased by 261% in the first six months of this
year alone. lastminute.com’s understanding of our business strategy
and our mutual long term commitment to dynamic packaging makes this
agreement a natural next step for both of us to grow sales and better
meet customer requirements.”
Related stories on ITN:

(31/08/2003) Tesco.com Joins Forces with lastminute.com to Launch New Travel Site

(28/07/2003) lastminute.com Launches the Video Mobile Network
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