Sabre has made a bid to acquire lastminute.com for 165p a share, valuing the business at £577. The news comes on the same day as lastminute.com announced interim results with a total transaction value of 57 percent for the first half of 2005 and a doubling of their order book since the first quarter of 2005.
The proposed acquisition is expected to be neutral, post integration costs, to Sabre Holdings’ earnings per share in 2005 on an adjusted basis (dilutive on a GAAP basis) and significantly accretive on an adjusted basis in 2006 (dilutive on a GAAP basis).
According to Sam Gilliland, chairman, president and CEO of Sabre Holdings, the anticipated acquisition supports Sabre’s strategy of extending its role as a travel retailer. He commented: “We’re extremely pleased with the prospect of having lastminute.com, with its highly-regarded brands and well-established customer base, as a part of Travelocity, including Travelocity Europe. We expect this combination would provide us greater opportunity to profit from the fast-growing European online segment. We look forward to working with lastminute.com’s strong team to create further value for our suppliers, our customers and our shareholders.”
Following completion of the acquisition Brent Hoberman will become CEO of the combined lastminute.com and Travelocity European operations, reporting to Michelle Peluso, president and CEO of Travelocity. Damon Tassone, currently president of Travelocity Europe, will become Deputy CEO reporting to Brent Hoberman.
“Today’s offer from Sabre is an endorsement of the achievements of everyone at lastminute.com. Over the past seven years, we have built a business from scratch into one of Europe’s leading travel and leisure groups, with over seven million customers and total transactions worth £992 million for the financial year ended September 30, 2004,” said Brent Hoberman, CEO of lastminute.com, which also announced its first half 2005 results today. “I am looking forward to the opportunity of running the combined lastminute.com and Travelocity businesses in Europe.”
According to Brian Collie, Chairman of lastminute.com, “The lastminute.com Directors considered this offer from Sabre very carefully. While we all acknowledge lastminute.com’s future prospects, we believe that this offer represents an excellent opportunity to deliver significant, certain value to shareholders now and to build an even stronger business for the future.”
“This acquisition would bring together two well-regarded brands and two great teams to create the leading position in European online travel.” said Michelle Peluso, president and CEO of Travelocity. “Together we would have strong positions in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and Spain. lastminute.com’s diverse mix of flights, holidays, hotels, car hire, and non-travel, ties closely with Travelocity’s strategy of continuing to expand our range of offerings to consumers, beyond basic air travel”
Europe is the world’s largest leisure travel marketplace. In 2004, online penetration reached nine percent, but it is expected to more than double to 20 percent by the end of 2006.
After closing of the acquisition, Travelocity will evaluate its brands country by country with the intention of positioning lastminute.com as the lead brand in most countries in which it operates. Travelocity would likely operate multiple brands in Europe to maintain the broadest possible online presence.