Cendant has agreed to acquire privately held, UK based Gullivers Travel Associates, the trading name of Donvand Ltd., and Octopus Travel Group Ltd. for approximately $1.1 billion in cash.
Gullivers Travel Associates is a leading wholesaler of hotels, destination services, travel packages and group tours, and OctopusTravel.com is a global online provider of lodging and destination services, selling directly to consumers as well as through third party affiliate and primarily low cost airlines. The companies source all of their travel and services inventory directly from suppliers in 25 countries, and operate as a merchandiser of travel and tourism land-based content for groups and individuals. It is anticipated that key management of Gullivers, including David Babai, chairman, will remain with the company in similar capacities.
The transaction is subject to certain regulatory filings and is anticipated to close in April 2005. Cendant expects to fund the acquisition by utilizing the proceeds from the previously announced 100% initial public offering of the Company’s Wright Express unit, which is expected to occur in February or March 2005.
Gullivers, founded in 1975, offers unique tour and packaged travel content to tour operators, travel agents and consumers in 23 languages and employs approximately 2,400 people. Its largest outbound market from which its customers purchase travel is Asia, and most significantly Japan as well as Hong Kong and China. Its principal destination markets are the major European countries; however, it sells products and services in over 100 countries. Octopus has been operating since 2000 and offers negotiated hotel offerings at over 21,400 properties worldwide. Octopus also provides a variety of in-destination services, with over one million contracted activities available online to customers and consumers worldwide.
Cendant’s Chairman and CEO, Henry R. Silverman, stated: “The acquisition of Gullivers provides Cendant with vast wholesale hotel, tour and packaged travel content, and expands our global footprint in the travel distribution business, the build-out of which is now substantially complete. For some time now, growth as a travel intermediary has been an important part of our strategy to focus Cendant exclusively in travel and real estate. After much hard work, the opportunities have all come together in the last three months. We will establish significant positions around the world: the acquisition of Orbitz immediately moved us into a leading position in the US online business; the acquisition of ebookers will enable us to accomplish the same goal in Europe. Now, with Gullivers, we enter the wholesale and package sector with unique content, and gain substantial presence in Asia and an enhanced footing in Europe. When combined with our Galileo and Cheaptickets businesses, we will be uniquely positioned as a travel intermediary to execute against our “order maker/order taker” strategy which, we believe, will drive profitability in one of the largest and fastest growing industries worldwide.”Ê
Gullivers’ Chairman, David Babai, stated: “I have been privileged over the past 30 years to lead an amazing team of travel professionals who have helped build Gullivers into a highly successful global wholesaler of travel and destination services. The addition of OctopusTravel, our consumer website, has helped both our rapid growth and vertical integration in the industry. I have no doubt that the partnership with Cendant will create a new and formidable force in the travel distribution business which will change the face of tourism as we know it, and I am personally very delighted about my continued involvement with Cendant and expect to participate in its accelerating growth.”