TPG and Silver Lake take Sabre private

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The acquisitions of Sabre Holdings and Windstar Cruises for $5.3 billion and $100 million, respectively, closed within the past 10 days.

Affiliates of the Texas Pacific Group and Silver Lake Partners completed their $5.4 billion leveraged buyout of Sabre on March 30 for $32.75 per share.

Stockholders, representing 62% of the outstanding shares and about 87% of the shares that were voted, approved the Sabre transaction.

Days before the vote, Sabre settled litigation, providing a sweetener to stockholders. Under certain circumstances, the company agreed to pay stockholders up to 25% of the resale profit if it sells at least 60% of Sabre or Travelocity by the end of September.

TSG, Sabre's stock symbol, was removed from the New York Stock Exchange on 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 maneuvering, key members of Sabre's top management received and exercised the right 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 CEO of Hotwire.

As part of the transition to the private sector, Sabre's board was disbanded, and Sam Gilliland therefore lost his chairman's title. He remains president and CEO of Sabre.

In another change, Ellen Keszler, president of Travelocity Business since its founding in 2003 and longtime Sabre executive, will leave the company after a short transition, said Travelocity Business spokesman Michael Brophy.

Travelocity Business appointed Lesley Harris, previously vice president of sales and customer care at Travelocity, as the new president of Sabre's corporate travel unit.

Sabre revealed the changing of the guard on April 4, days after the buyout by TPG and Silver Lake Partners was completed.

However, Brophy said Keszler left for family reasons and that the move was unrelated to the buyout.

Ambassadors to renovate Windstar ships

Ambassadors International, meanwhile, completed its acquisition of luxury line Windstar Cruises from Carnival Corp. on April 2.

The $100 million deal was announced in late February.

Windstar's three ships, the 148-passenger Wind Star and Wind Spirit and the 312-passenger Wind Surf, sail in the Caribbean and Costa Rica in the winter and in the Mediterranean the rest of the year.

Ambassadors plans to renovate the Wind Star and Wind Spirit this year, continuing the fleet refurbishment that was begun last year by Holland America Line, the Carnival subsidiary that formerly operated Windstar.  

To contact reporter Dennis Schaal, send e-mail to [email protected].

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