has announced that it is to acquire a controlling 55% stake in Opodo, the pan-European travel service, with a EUR 62m cash injection . The shareholdings of Opodo’s nine existing airline owners will reduce in proportion to their current stake .
Through this agreement, Amadeus intends to strengthen its position in both the online and leisure travel arenas, which increasingly offer significant growth opportunities in the travel industry.
The online travel industry, in which Opodo is a key player, is experiencing rapid growth, particularly in the leisure sector. The European online market is forecast to show an average annual growth rate of 39% between 2002 and 2008, following the pattern of the US market where online sales today represent over 30% of air travel bookings .
As one of the leading online travel portals in Europe, Opodo has 18 per cent market share in online travel agency air bookings across the three markets in which it currently operates (France, Germany and U.K.). It reached its millionth air booking in November 2003, averaging over 10 million site visits per month.
“Amadeus is an ideal owner for Opodo as we are ready to make the necessary investments to take Opodo to the next level of success, with the technological expertise and knowledge to make this a reality. By optimising content and channels we intend to take advantage of the opportunity of leisure growth”, said Philippe Chérèque, Senior Vice President Corporate Strategy at Amadeus.
Amadeus is a key technology provider for Opodo and has held 2 seats on Opodo’s board since April 2003. This deal represents an evolution of Amadeus’ online joint venture strategy which commenced four years ago. Amadeus has built its presence in the online travel industry through investments in several Internet travel companies around the globe including Rumbo and Travellink, the leading portals in Spain and Scandinavia respectively. In addition to its distribution business, Amadeus is a key provider of e-commerce solutions and IT platforms for airlines and travel providers.
“While Amadeus will continue to focus and invest in the traditional and core distribution business, we are equally committed to extending new business lines that will expand our existing potential and support our aim to be the technology partner at the heart of the travel industry. We believe in the future of both traditional and new channels and our strategy reflects our commitment to the success of our customers in each of them”, said José Antonio Tazón, President and CEO of Amadeus.
“We are confident that Amadeus’ strong travel technology expertise and leadership make it the ideal match to take Opodo into a new phase of development and expansion. We look forward to working together to continue to build what we believe is a very promising future for Opodo,” said David Scowsill, CEO of Opodo.
In response to the acquisition, a Sabre Travel Network spokesperson told Internet Travel News: “Sabre Holdings has long believed that it is important for GDS operators to develop a presence in every channel of travel distribution.Ê This is why the company has consistently invested in Travelocity, GetThere and Sabre Airline Solutions, in addition to the Sabre Travel Network travel agency distribution business and the Sabre GDS.
“This strategy will be particularly important in the newly deregulated environment, where GDS operators will be free to negotiate with individual travel providers on the strength of the distribution value they offer. ÊThis is why it’s no surprise to see Amadeus finally join the party.Ê It’s amusing to note, though, that until very recently Amadeus was criticising Sabre Travel Network for its relationship with Travelocity”.