Expedia checked off several items atop its acquisition shopping list in 2015 but it isn't done yet. As its CEO says, "We will continue to shoot bullets and see what's out there in the world."
Having acquired Travelocity, Orbitz Worldwide, and HomeAway, made a minority investment in Latin America’s Decolar and bought out its joint venture with AirAsia in 2015 for more than $6 billion in merger and acquisition activity, Expedia isn’t done yet in 2016.
“I think you’ll know we’ll always be opportunistic and the M&A team is never closed for business,” Expedia Inc. CFO Mark Okerstrom told Skift February 10. “We are always on the hunt for interesting opportunities and we are fortunate to have a very strong balance sheet to enable us to do it. We are also very fortunate to have an incredibly strong core business that gives us the confidence to go out and do some of these acquisitions that are a little bit more time-intensive.”
Asked whether he thought Expedia would be preoccupied this year with integrating Orbitz Worldwide and HomeAway or whether it will go on another spending spree, Okerstrom said: “In 2016 you are going to see both. It’s not going to be an either/or in terms of hunker down or look for acquisitions.”
Okerstrom said Expedia would be focused on setting up HomeAway to deliver $350 million in adjusted EBITDA by 2018, a previously articulated target, and much of the Orbitz.com and Cheaptickets.com businesses have already been transitioned to the Expedia technology platform.
“But, yes, we are going to have our eyes open for other deals,” Okerstrom said. “Now whether we are going to have another year of doing $6 billion-plus of strategic acquisitions, I think that is unlikely. We will have our eyes open.”
Anything Left To Buy?
Asked whether Expedia had already acquired most of the attractive targets, Okerstrom disputed that notion.
“We obviously have a shopping list,” Okerstrom said. “We start with the most attractive things to us at the time and we were fortunate to be able to check some big want-to-haves off in 2015. But there are always things out there.
“The amazing thing about this industry is it’s huge. Even though we’re a big business we are such a small part of the industry and there are just lots of interesting businesses doing interesting things in this industry of ours all over the world.”
Inwardly Focused But Talking To Everyone
During Expedia’s fourth quarter and full-year 2015 earnings call February 10, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi elaborated on how the company views the acquisitions arena.
Khosrowshahi said there are no obvious holes in the company’s portfolio, adding that the team is inwardly focused with integrating last year’s acquisitions but is also talking to “everyone” about M&A opportunities.
Khosrowshahi said he wouldn’t necessarily be disappointed if Expedia didn’t execute any major acquisitions over the next two years but “shame on us” if Expedia didn’t expand its international footprint over the next five to 10 years.
He said Expedia is still too U.S.-dependent.
Outlining areas for possible acquisitions, Khosrowshahi said corporate travel is “an enormous opportunity” as it focuses on a higher-yield customer. He wants to see Expedia scale its Egencia business through both organic growth and acquisitions.
Companies that are doing innovative things might also be attractive acquisition targets, Khosrowshahi said.
“We will continue to shoot bullets and see what’s out there in the world,” he said.
Competitors such as Priceline and TripAdvisor would be wise to hone their arsenals, as well.
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Photo credit: Expedia CFO Mark Okerstrom says the company will have its 'eyes open' for companies to acquire in 2016. Expedia