With Ralph Bartel of Travelzoo essentially buying back his Asia-Pacific business at a huge profit, Travelzoo instantly becomes more global as it tries to build out its hotel-booking business.
Deal publisher and hotel booking site Travelzoo, which sold its Asia-Pacific businesses to founder Ralph Bartel for $3.6 million six years ago, has reacquired the businesses for a fair market value of $22.6 million.
Travelzoo founder Ralph Bartel controls the company that is the largest shareholder of Travelzoo, and wields majority voting power. He is also the sole shareholder of the company that owns Travelzoo Asia-Pacific, which licensed the Travelzoo name. Ralph’s brother, Holger Bartel, is Travelzoo’s chairman.
Commenting on the acquisition, Travelzoo CEO Chris Loughlin told Skift: “We review our option to buy back Asia Pacific each year. The Asia Pacific business is now showing meaningful revenue, the audience is over 3 million members and we are clearly past the start-up phase. In addition, the Asia Pacific travel market outlook is very positive.”
Travelzoo spun off Travelzoo Asia-Pacific, with operations in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia, six years ago because its losses were dragging down Travelzoo’s earnings.
Under the spinoff agreement, Travelzoo had an option to buy Travelzoo Asia-Pacific at fair market value and it exercised the right to do so.
As of December 31, 2014, Travelzoo had 27 million newsletter subscribers, including the Asia-Pacific business, which was operated independently.
In another move, Travelzoo added Beatrice Tarka, the CEO and founder of travel metasearch engine Mobissimo, to a Travelzoo board that has expanded to seven members, from the previous five. Also joining Tarka on the board is Caroline Tsay, vice president and general manager of the HP Software Online Business at Hewlett-Packard Co.
Asked whether Tarka’s appointment to the board had any strategic implications regarding Travelzoo and Mobissimo, Loughlin of Travelzoo said: “We are very pleased to have Beatrice join our Board of Directors. She is a pioneer and will bring a wealth of product and consumer travel knowledge to our discussions. Her appointment is independent of any relationship between Travelzoo and Mobissimo.”
Photo credit: Travelzoo seeks to provide inspiration for people to travel and thus published this photo of Four Seasons Bora Bora to Travelzoo's Facebook page. Eric Stoen / Travel Babbo/Travelzoo