Skift Take

Sabre has been an active acquirer over the years, but in 2013 it sold three businesses -- Travelocity Business, Holiday Autos and Zuji -- all at a loss. Sabre wanted to execute a successful IPO, and it had plenty of things to tidy up.

Now that the veil has been lifted as privately held Sabre filed its IPO registration statement, details have emerged about the company’s asset-disposition frenzy in 2012 and 2013, mostly in an attempt to trim losses and pretty up the balance sheet in preparation for going public.

The coup de gras was the recently implemented agreement that has Sabre outsourcing the back-end operations of its Travelocity unit in North America to Expedia.

Sabre is trying to trim its losses at Travelocity. For the first nine months of 2013, Sabre took a $96 million impairment charge for Travelocity North America, and another $40 million for Travelocity Europe.

But, Sabre was also busy selling assets.

For example, in 2013 Sabre took a $25 million loss in selling its Singapore-based online travel agency, Zuji, to Webjet.

In 2006, Sabre’s Travelocity spent $34 million to acquire the roughly 86% of Zuji that it didn’t already own from Abacus and 15 airlines in the region.

Also in 2013, Sabre took a $3 million loss in selling Travelocity Business to BCD Travel.

On the plus side in 2012, Sabre recorded a gain of $25 million in selling its 51% stake in Sabre Pacific, an Australia-based distribution business, to Abacus.

Of the six business that Sabre sold in 2012-2013, it took losses on four of the transactions.

In the charts below, you can also see the acquisition prices that Sabre paid for some of the six acquisitions, including the $116 million it paid for PRISM Technologies, an airline contract business intelligence service, it made from 2010 to 2012.

In 2013, though, with its then-looming IPO the worst-kept secret in travel, Sabre clearly was no longer in acquisition mode.

Losses Mount on Sabre Asset Dispositions

Company Sold Buyer Year Business Type Sabre’s Net Gain/Loss
Travelocity Business BCD Travel 2013 Corporate travel ($3 million)
Holiday Autos Car Trawler 2013 Leisure car rental ($11 million)
Zuji Webjet 2013 Online travel, hotel reservations, Singapore ($25 million)
TravelGuru Yatra 2012 Online travel, hotel reservations, India $11 million
Travelocity Nordics Resfeber 2012 Online travel, event tickets, Sweden, Norway, Denmark ($3 million)
Sabre Pacific* Abacus 2012 Global distribution, Australia $25 million

* Sabre sold its 51% stake in Sabre Pacific to joint venture partner Abacus

Sabre Acquisitions 2010-2012

Company Year Business Type Acquisition Price
PRISM Technologies 2012 Airline contract business intelligence $116 million
Zenon N.D.C. 2011 Global Distribution System, Cyrprus $11 million*
SoftHotel 2011 Hotel property management solutions N/A
Calidris 2010 Business intelligence, Iceland $52 million**
FlightLine 2010 Crew-scheduling software, North America N/A
Flugwerkzeuge Aviation Software 2010 Flight planning, Austria N/A

* Sabre acquired Zenon and SoftHotel for a total of $11 million in 2011, and didn’t detail what it paid for each.

** Sabre acquired Calidris, FlightLine and Flugwerkzeuge Aviation Software (f:wz) for a combined $52 million in 2010, and didn’t break down what it paid for each.

Source: Sabre S-1, other public information


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Tags: ipo, sabre, travelocity

Photo credit: Sabre's Travelocity unit has been dragging down earnings. The parent company outsourced Travelocity's North American back-end operations to Expedia, and sold six companies in 2012-2013. PlaceIt by Breezi

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