Skift Take

Hotelbeds appears determined to buy up the competition in order to retain its dominant position. What is unclear though is what happens to Kuoni Group once the transaction completes as GTA represents almost two-thirds of its turnover. Will it continue on as a smaller company or continue to be broken up?

There looks set to be further consolidation in the wholesale accommodation sector after market leader Hotelbeds Group announced a deal to buy rival GTA from Kuoni Group.

The new owners of Hotelbeds, Cinven Capital Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board have pursued an aggressive strategy of consolidation since purchasing the company from tour operator TUI Group for $1.3 billion.

Wholesalers like Hotelbeds source rooms and other travel products before selling them on to tour operators, airlines and travel agents.

No figure has been given and it’s still subject to regulatory approval but if it’s given the green light the newly enlarged Hotelbeds will have a dominant position. Earlier this year it also agreed to acquire Orlando-based Tourico Holidays.

GTA is currently part of Kuoni and it’s unclear what the sale means for that business.

The Swiss company is a shadow of its former self having sold off its tour operating brands and been taken private by private equity firm EQT.

According to Kuoni’s most recent financial accounts, GTA made up about 60 percent of its total turnover and accounted for about a third of its total operating profit.

When the sale is complete the company will consist of a B2B group travel business, destination management unit and visa processing division. It’s possible that Kuoni could continue to be broken up by its new owner.

Interestingly, the deal does not include inbound travel company MTS Globe, which GTA only bought in December last year for $59 million. The company has been taken back by its previous shareholder for a undisclosed fee.

When the deal is completed Kuoni will hold a “significant minority position” in the combined businesses. But until then it will remain a separate entity, as will Tourico Holidays.

Joan Vilà, executive chairman of Hotelbeds Group commented: “It gives me great pleasure to announce that GTA will be joining Hotelbeds Group.

“This deal brings another great bedbank to the Hotelbeds Group family, following the announcement in February that Tourico Holidays will also be integrating with us. Both of these important deals clearly underline our steadfast commitment to accelerate the growth of our business both organically and via M&A activity.”

Ivan Walter, Chief Executive of GTA added: “We are excited by the opportunity that combining forces with Hotelbeds Group brings. Our history and proven track record speak for themselves, and by coming together with Hotelbeds Group we can bring together a wealth of experience, commitment and a clear strategic focus on the B2B sector. We believe that today’s news is a milestone for the industry, and great news for our respective suppliers and customers.”

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Tags: wholesalers

Photo credit: Hotelbeds Group is buying GTA. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval. Hotelbeds Group

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