Cheapflights Media Invests in Momondo.com

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LONDON and BOSTON, MA and COPENHAGEN, DENMARK–(Marketwire – 03/29/11) –Cheapflights Media Ltd is delighted to announce that it has completed an investment in the travel meta-search site momondo.com and its parent company Skygate International. Momondo and Skygate will continue to operate from Copenhagen as independent brands led by their existing and successful founding management. Both companies are private and no details of the consideration are being disclosed.This partnership brings together two pioneering, profitable and growing online consumer travel search brands as well as Skygate’s innovative business-to-business travel solutions company.

In 2010, Momondo and Cheapflights collectively hosted over 115M visits from travelers across 15 countries and listed millions of travel deals from over 700 airline and travel partners. Each business brings complementary product and geographical strengths. Cheapflights will continue to focus on providing the best flights deals for consumers with flexible schedules looking for travel inspiration.

Momondo will continue to focus on providing consumers on a fixed schedule with real time bookings in flights, hotels and car hire. Geographically, Momondo has a strong Scandinavian and Russian presence, while Cheapflights has a strong UK and North American presence.Chris Cuddy, Cheapflights Media’s CEO, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the innovative team at Momondo. They have deep expertise in online travel and share Cheapflights’ passion for demystifying the often overwhelming task of finding and booking the best travel deals.”He added: “We greatly admire the pioneering heritage of Momondo and intend to fully support their existing brands and further accelerate their plans.

Initially, Cheapflights Media will be replacing our Zugu meta-search product and brand with Momondo. Down the road, we will explore opportunities to leverage technology, data, and advertising partnerships across the Momondo and Cheapflights networks to bring better travel search solutions to more consumers world-wide.”Thorvald Stigsen, founder and CEO of Momondo, said: “This is a great opportunity for us. Cheapflights Media is a well-established online media company that shares our ambition to make a global impact. We have found a partner with a tradition of profitable organic growth and innovation whose aim is to be a major global player in internet travel.”Cheapflights Media’s Chairman, Hugo Burge, continued: “We are excited to join forces with Momondo’s creative and highly successful team. Travel search is a global opportunity and this accelerates our ambitions. We believe that together we are stronger, can better support the travel industry and help more people have great travel experiences.”

About Cheapflights Media:

The trusted partner in flights search and travel inspiration, Cheapflights Media is a global Internet media network that has been delivering great deals since 1996. Headquartered in London with offices in Boston and Toronto, Cheapflights Media serves advertisers and consumers through its international portfolio of Web sites and services. Packed with travel guides, tips and the latest news and information, the Cheapflights sites are online shopping comparison engines that make it easy for consumers with flexible schedules to research, compare and save on domestic and international trips. With brand-name deals on airline tickets from hundreds of travel partners and airlines and a team of travel experts hand picking the best offerings, Cheapflights offers visitors an independent mix of deals and travel inspiration they can’t find anywhere else. Our advertising partners made estimated sales through Cheapflights’ websites of US$2.6 Billion globally in 2010. There are currently Cheapflights-branded sites for the U.K., U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia & New Zealand, France, Italy and Spain.

About momondo.com:

Momondo was launched in 2006 and in four years has grown to become one of Denmark’s top websites across all sectors, not just travel. Momondo has been recommended by The New York Times, CNN, CBS News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Daily Telegraph. U.S. travel authority, Arthur Frommer and some of the world’s leading travel media, Sherman’s Travel, Travel and Leisure recommended momondo.com as THE site in which to find travel bargains for airfare, hotel and car hire. Momondo has also received the 2010 Danish e-commerce prize for the travel and tourism category; also Norway’s largest newspaper, World Gang (VG), and the Norwegian Consumer Council independently elected Momondo as the best player in the electronic travel reservation marketplace. In addition, The Sunday Times (London) announced that Momondo was the best overall travel site in a large survey in August 2010. Momondo is ideal for travellers who need to book specific travel schedules.

About Skygate International:

Since 1992 SkyGate International has developed innovative Travel Management solutions for Corporations and Travel Agencies. Our Travel Agency solutions include Newport, our multi-channel front-office solution, our CRM solution for key account and Sales, our front office system SkyGate5 and SpeedFares, our low-cost search engine used by worldwide travel agencies. Our solutions for Corporations include SkyGate4, a travel management solutions for corporations with in-house travel departments and data consolidation for corporations that have outsourced their travel management operations.

Contact:

For further information please contact:

Cheapflights Media Ltd:
John Barrington-Carver
Head of Corporate Communication
Tel: +44 (0) 203 219 7602 / Mobile +44 (0) 7831 655 630

Momondo:
Martin Lumbye
Partner
Mobile: +45 20 68 87 01

TripAdvisor acquires vacation rental site Holiday Lettings

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TripAdvisorJune 24, 2010 – Travel website operator TripAdvisor, an Expedia company, this morning announced it has acquired Holiday Lettings, credited as being the UK’s largest independent vacation rental website.

The seller is Rightmove, a UK-based property website operator. Rightmove sold its majority interest in the holding company of Holiday Lettings to TripAdvisor for an undisclosed sum.

Rightmove acquired a 66.67% stake in Holiday Lettings in March 2007, and recently said it intended to report the property as a discontinued operation in its half yearly report, with the gross assets disposed of totalling £1 million.

holidaylettings.co.ukHoliday Lettings currently advertises more than 40,000 vacation rental properties on behalf of private owners, property managers and letting agents. The homes are said to stretch across 116 countries and range from villas, apartments and farmhouses to windmills, yurts and houseboats. According to the press release, 25 million visitors use the site every year.

The other major rental brand in the UK is Villarenters, owned by Teletext Holidays.

The acquisition follows the launch of vacation rentals on TripAdvisor in 2009, and the purchase of a majority stake in United States-based FlipKey.com in 2008. Clearly, the company is keen on competing with vacation rental giant HomeAway head-to-head.

TripAdvisor says Holidaylettings.co.uk will continue to be operated as an independent site. The company, which was founded back in 1999, will remain lead as an independent brand from its offices in Oxford by the original co-founders and current management.

According to the press release, TripAdvisor Media Group now includes 17 travel brands after the acquisition of Holiday Lettings, which collectively attract close to 46 million unique monthly visitors globally (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide, May 2010).

USA Networks Agrees to Acquire Control Stake In Expedia From Microsoft

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USA Networks Inc.

July 17, 2001USA Networks Inc. announced plans to buy a controlling stake in Expedia Inc. from Microsoft Corp. on terms that work out to be well below the Internet-travel concern’s recent market price.

Expedia shares dropped 7.8% on the news, but USA Networks stock rose 4.9%, as analysts said the deal made sense given the company’s strategy of expanding in interactive commerce.

Expedia’s controlling shareholder, Microsoft Corp. , has agreed to sell its 70% stake, although Expedia’s public shareholders also will get the chance to sell their stock.  USA Networks said it would buy from 67% to 75% of Expedia in a deal that will make the cable-TV concern a major force in the online-travel market.

USA Networks said it planned to launch a cable-TV channel this year focused on travel-related commerce. USA said it had discussed teaming up with other companies in the Liberty Media Group family on the channel. USA Networks also confirmed its proposed acquisition of National Leisure Group Inc., a closely held cruise and vacation package agency, for an undisclosed price.

USA Chairman and Chief Executive Barry Diller and Expedia Chief Financial Officer Greg Stanger both declined to put a value on the offer. USA said the offer had a “hard” value of $35 a share, or about $1.3 billion, not including the warrants.  Terms of USA’s offer for Expedia were complex and subject to varying valuations. USA is offering a mix of its common shares, preferred stock and warrants.

Microsoft sells controlling stake in Expedia.comPaul Keung, an analyst covering Expedia for CIBC World Markets, estimates the transaction’s full potential value at $39 to $44 a share. At either valuation, the offer is below Expedia’s 4 p.m. price Friday of $48.70, although the stock had jumped almost 11% on Friday alone. Expedia shares have enjoyed a healthy run-up since October, when they traded as low as $7.75.

Expedia previewed its fiscal fourth-quarter results, indicating the company’s performance would be much stronger than expected. For the three months to June 30, Expedia predicted a loss of 11 cents to 15 cents a share. Excluding certain unspecified noncash items, the company forecast a profit of 20 cents to 23 cents a diluted share, substantially higher than the nine cents expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call. Expedia also said revenue for the quarter more than doubled from a year earlier and gross bookings surged 78% to $802 million.

Even though Expedia is profitable on a cash basis, the company still has been generating some accounting losses that were a drag on Microsoft’s books — one reason Microsoft may have been willing to unload its stake for a relatively low price. Those accounting losses stemmed from goodwill charges associated with Expedia’s acquisitions of VacationSpot.com Corp. and Travelscape.com Inc., as well as separate charges relating to employee stock options.

“I’m delighted,” said Ken Londoner, general partner of New York-based hedge fund Red Coat Capital Management LLC, which also is an Expedia shareholder. He said the deal with USA gives Expedia “enhanced strategic value.”  Mr. Diller “is probably the best manager to bring into the situation at this juncture,” given his track record on interactive commerce and television, Mr. Londoner said.

Despite the absence of a premium to the stock price, some Expedia shareholders said they were happy with the deal. Robert Zuccaro, president of the Grand Prix Fund, one of Expedia’s largest shareholders, said the Wilton, Conn., fund was pleased and intends to hold on to its investment. “It’s basically a fair-market-value offer,” Mr. Zuccaro said. He noted Expedia’s underlying fundamentals are strong and the stock has quadrupled so far this year, an ascent he expects to continue. “Look at the revenue and earnings growth; it’s powerful,” he said.

SG Cowen Securities Corp. analyst Ed Hatch noted that launching a new travel-cable channel could be costly, although he said USA’s ownership of other cable networks could help make it more economical. Another way to reduce the potential expenses would be to find partners. Mr. Diller told analysts USA was “certainly desirous of taking in other players.”

On a conference call with analysts, Mr. Diller noted that travel was the single largest retail category online. He said USA concluded that interactive travel would be an ideal fit with its other businesses.

Microsoft Announces Expedia Online Travel Service Initial Public Offering

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Microsoft Spins Off First Web Stock

September 23, 1999 – Fueled by internet companies doing well on Wall Street, Microsoft plans to spin off its Expedia online travel service. Microsoft announced today plans to sell stock in the division to the public.

This marks the first time Microsoft will spin off one of its divisions into a public company, allowing it to take advantage of a stock market that has done well by online ventures. According to the company’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft is hoping to raise up to $75 million from the offering.

Expedia is an online travel agency which allows users to plan trips, purchase tickets and make travel reservations. Expedia has become one of Microsoft’s most popular Web offerings, with 7 million registered users by the end of August.

Since it was launched in October 1996, Expedia has recorded $700 million in gross bookings in airline, hotel and car-rental reservations. In fiscal year 1999, which ended in June, the service had a net loss of $19.6 million on net revenues of $38.7 million. That compares with a loss of $29.4 million loss on net revenues of $13.8 million the previous year.

Microsoft Vice President Brad Chase announced the plan. Citing regulatory restrictions on discussing pending offerings, Chase declined to discuss Microsoft’s reasons for the stock sale. But he did say Microsoft wants to seed the market for online services to help extend opportunities for Microsoft technology.

Expedia founder Richard Barton will be president and chief executive and Greg Maffei, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, will be chairman of the company. Microsoft will also retain majority ownership.

Although Expedia will become a separate company, it will have a contractual relationship with Microsoft to provide travel services on the msn.com Web site.

As part of a daylong event, the announcement came today outlining Microsoft’s latest version of its Internet strategy, “The Everyday Web”. Core to the strategy is the notion that the company sees software as a service that computer users can access online and tailor to their own needs. “We think it fundamentally changes the way we look at our business,” said Group Vice President Rick Belluzzo.

The Internet-strategy day was something of a coming-out event for Belluzzo, who became Microsoft’s Internet chief less than a month ago after serving as chief executive of computer maker Silicon Graphics.

Today Microsoft President Steve Ballmer, at a separate event, iterated how the company is evolving to focus on software as service. Microsoft will work to provide a platform to coordinate software, available on the Internet, that people could use to better their lives, Ballmer told a technology conference of the Society of Business Editors and Writers meeting in Seattle.