Online Travel Corporation (OTC), the UK`s leading online travel wholesaler and retailer, has signalled its intention to expand further into the Asia Pacific region following the purchase of leading travel retailer Sydney Travel Centre.
It comes just two months after OTC launched a consumer website in Australia (www.otctravel.com.au ) and won contracts to power the travel elements of major Australian portals such as AOL, Altavista, Webwombat and Optus.
OTC`s dedicated site is now established as the third most visited travel site in the Australian market.
The company extended its operations in the region earlier this year when it appointed former Expedia marketing head Ed Hanrahan as managing director of OTC`s Asia Pacific division, operating from its Sydney office.
The acquisition of Sydney Travel Centre - mainly a call centre handling business and leisure bookings - is seen as a move to support OTC`s rapidly-growing global web-travel model and to expand its regional and national content in Australia.
The purchase avoids the cost duplications involved in OTC setting up its own call centre operation and gives the company a business with an established and growing customer base that last year generated sales of around £5m.
It also paves the way for entering the potentially lucrative New Zealand market and several Asian countries over the next few years.
The deal comes just weeks after OTC bought UK-based Travelstore.com to extend its interests in the business travel marketplace in a deal worth £2.1m. Since 2000, OTC has also acquired businesses from groups including EMAP and Ifyoutravel.
Mark Jones, CEO of OTC, said: “Our recent success launching a major travel portal in Australia and winning contracts with several of the region`s top e-travel forces demonstrates the economic arguments for our model right across the global marketplace.
“Sydney Travel Centre will give us an established customer base and will enable us to provide an even more competitive choice of local travel content together with call centre fulfillment. It builds the platform for extending our presence into other Asia Pacific markets and for developing OTC as the leading e-travel player across the region.”
Added Ed Hanrahan: “OTC has quickly established itself as a major player in the Australian e-travel market, and acquiring Sydney Travel Centre will give us greater reach through excellent products and a tight fulfilment operation.”
The deal is worth A$600,000 in cash and £42,500 in OTC shares representing 170,000 new ordinary shares at 25 pence each - worth in total around £250,000.
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