Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: April 4, 2007

AFFILIATES OF THE TEXAS PACIFIC GROUP AND SILVER LAKE PARTNERS completed their $5.4 billion leveraged buyout of Sabre Holdings on March 30 for $32.75 per share. TSG, Sabre's stock symbol, was removed from the New York Stock Exchange April 2, signaling the company's transition to the private sector. Although Sabre is now a private company, it intends to keep reporting some of its financial results because some of its debt is public. As part of the maneuverings, key members of Sabre's top management got the right and decided to invest in up to 2% in aggregate of the common and preferred stock of Sovereign Holdings, Sabre's new parent. The president of Sovereign Holdings is Karl Peterson, a TPG partner and the former Hotwire CEO.

MEANWHILE, SAM GILLILAND, the Sabre chairman and CEO, sought to counter the "noise" about private equity investors and their preoccupation with cost-cutting. Gilliland, speaking at a National Business Travel Association forum in New York last week, said Sabre, under its new owners, intends to spend more on "product" in 2007 than it did in 2006.

EXPEDIA INC. is making a financial investment in CruiseShipCenters, a Vancouver-based, cruise-focused retailer that offers products through 100 retail franchise locations and more than 1,500 independent consultants throughout Canada. Expedia did not disclose details of the investment, but Katie Deines, a spokeswoman for Expedia, said the investment would not have a material impact on Expedia's finances. Expedia and CruiseShipCenters stated that Expedia would broaden its exposure to offline distribution channels via the partnership, and CruiseShipCenters' franchisers and consultants would "benefit in the future from the Expedia inventory of noncruise travel options for customers." The move marks Expedia's first investment in a brick-and-mortar cruise retail operation. The companies stated that CruiseShipCenters books more than 20% of cruises sold in Canada.

WORLDSPAN AND BRITISH AIRWAYS signed a three-year distribution agreement that they said provides Worldspan subscribers worldwide with access to British Airways' full inventory, availability and fares. However, to gain these benefits, subscribers in Ireland and the U.K. would have to participate in the vendor's opt-in program. The program will be implemented on April 10, Worldspan said, adding it will announce the terms and conditions soon. With agreements with Sabre and Galileo slated to kick in on the same date, the focus now shifts to Amadeus, the world's largest GDS, which has yet to announce an agreement with British Airways.

Technology Editor: Dennis Schaal

Phone: (201) 902-1904

[email protected]

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