Lastminute.com sold for fraction of 2005 price

18/12/2014

Dotcom icon Lastminute.com has been sold to Swiss Travel firm Bravofly Rumbo Group for $120m (£76m), a small fraction of the £600m price it was valued at back in 2005.

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The UK travel website was sold by its owners for Sabre Holdings, a Texas-based travel technology group that was spun off from American Airlines.

Sabre had been looking to offload the business for some months to focus and invest in its core technology businesses, which include travel network, airline solutions and hospitality.

The deal has come about from the transfer of commercial liabilities and an expanded long-term commercial agreement, which will allow Bravofly to use Sabre's global distribution system.

“The transaction would not have a material effect on Bravofly Rumbo Group’s net cash position,” a statement read.

Bravofly is hoping to use the acquisition to make “a significant step forward in the group’s longterm strategy to help people get the best travel experience”.

Under the terms of the offer, Bravofly Rumbo will acquire all of lastminute.com's principal global operations in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, which totals revenues of more than 260m euros.

Fabio Cannavale, chairman of Bravofly Rumbo Group, said: “Lastminute.com is the perfect fit for Bravofly Rumbo Group. Its business complements and expands our offering in Europe and, with its strong presence in the hotel and vacation sector, diversifies our product revenue streams. We believe in the value and strength of lastminute.com’s iconic brand, which is recognized by more than 90 per cent of European consumers.”

The online travel booking service, founded by Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman in October 1998. The group was valued at £768m when it floated on the London stock exchange in 2000.
But within weeks its shares had fallen below their flotation price and it took three years to make a pre-tax profit.

Under the terms of this offer, Bravofly Rumbo will acquire all of Lastminute.com's main global operations in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year, following consultation with staff.

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