US travel group Expedia is set to acquire Wotif.com Holdings Limited (ASX:WTF) for $703 million.
The Scheme of Implementation agreement of $3.30 per share represents a 31 per cent premium on last week’s average share price, as well as a special dividend of 24 cents each.
Managing director and CEO Scott Blume (pictured) says the deal is the way of the future for the company.
“Joining Expedia allows us to rapidly advance two of our strategic initiatives – strengthening offshore supply and improving our customer and supplier value propositions through enhanced technology,” says Blume.
“We believe this will help solidify our position as the premier travel brand in Australia and New Zealand, grow our business across the Asia-Pacific region and increase our exposure and brand awareness to inbound international travellers.”
Wotif directors, along with founders Graeme Wood and Andrew Brice, collectively control 35.7 per cent of the Brisbane-based travel retailer.
The board has backed the offer, after assessing the changing dynamics of the market and potential risks operating as an independent player.
Chairman Dick McIlwain says the move will maximise shareholder value and position the company for international growth.
“The Expedia group is well placed to leverage and support our strong brands, operations, people and customer relationships in an online travel market that is becoming increasingly global,” McIlwain says.
“On behalf of the board, I want to recognise and thank the entire Wotif Group team for all of their hard work over the last 14 years – we are exceptionally proud of what they’ve accomplished in building a very successful online travel company in the region.”
The takeover is expected to be finalised in October, subject to WTF shareholder and court approval.
The company operates a number of travel brands across the Asia-Pacific region, including lastminute.com.au, travel.com.au, Asia Web Direct and Arnold Travel Technology.
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