Skift Take

Blackstone saddled Travelport and Orbitz Worldwide with tremendous debt, and greatly restricted Orbitz's freedom to maneuver. There have to be some champagne corks popping this weeks as Orbitz has a chance to taste some freedom.

April 15, it turns out, was independence day for Orbitz Worldwide and Travelport.

The Blackstone Group had controlled both companies, but relinquished its grip when Travelport completed a refinancing plan April 15.

Orbitz Worldwide announced its new status in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing April 18, stating: “… The Blackstone Group, L.P., no longer beneficially owns, directly or indirectly through voting control of its affiliates (including Travelport), in excess of 50% of our outstanding common stock.”

Affiliates of Blackstone and Technology Crossover Ventures acquired Travelport from Cendant in 2006. Orbitz was part of the acquisition, and eventually became a public company, albeit still controlled by Blackstone and Travelport.

Blackstone and Travelport beneficially owned 53% of Orbitz Worldwide’s shares of common stock, but they no longer control Orbitz as of April 15 because of Travelport’s refinancing plan.

Orbitz Worldwide has been locked into a number of contracts with Travelport that restricted Orbitz Worldwide’s operational freedom.

For example, until an Orbitz-Travelport contract expires at the end of 2014, Orbitz must comply with certain limits in its supplier relationships related to the use of global distribution systems other than Travelport’s, and establishing direct-connect technologies with airlines, such as American Airlines.

Orbitz’s relationship with Travelport and various suppliers won’t change overnight, but now there is some new-found flexibility.

In connectiion with the change of control, Jill Greenthal, a Blackstone Group senior advisor, notified Orbitz of her intent to resign from the Orbitz board of directors, effective May 10, 2013.






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Tags: blackstone, orbitz, travelport

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