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Travelport’s earlier control of Orbitz Worldwide saddled the online travel agency with debt and limited its strategic options when it was negotiating a new deal with American Airlines a couple of years ago, for example. Freeing Orbitz from Travelport’s influence will give Orbitz an independence that it hasn’t enjoyed in years.
A Travelport spokeswoman said “our Orbitz equity stake is no longer a strategic investment for us…As a result, we believe it is prudent to monetize the Orbitz stake over time and reallocate the proceeds to further Travelport’s strategic business plans. Following the sale, we will remain a substantial equity holder in Orbitz.”
On Monday, Orbitz announced an underwritten public offering of 7.5 million shares of its common stock by an affiliate of Travelport. Underwriters have a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 1.125 million shares from Travelport. Orbitz will not receive proceeds from the offering, it said.
After the offering, Travelport’s stake in Orbitz would dwindle to 37.6 percent, or 36.5 percent if the option is exercised, according to a prospectus filed with the SEC.
Shares of Orbitz Worldwide closed Monday at $7.56, up 0.8 percent. However, Orbitz shares fell in after-hours trading, after the announcement was made, but the prices quickly recovered. Shares in March spiked toward $10 but have settled back to a level they have seen most of the year, between $7 and $8.