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Travelport, the third-place global distribution system provider, will enter the beginning of a new period of its history with the exit of longtime CEO Gordon Wilson.
Former Sabre executive Greg Webb will become CEO effective August 1 while also assuming a spot on Travelport’s board of directors.
Travelport was brought private in a recent $4.4 billion deal spearheaded by notorious activist investor group Elliott Management, so the timing of this move makes sense.
Wilson, who became CEO in 2011 after a stint as deputy CEO and period serving as the leader of the company’s global distribution system division, led the company’s development of eNett, which is known to be a juicy target for future acquisition. He also oversaw the company’s initial public offering in 2014.
“I celebrated 28 years with the company in May and have been president and CEO since 2011,” Wilson said in a statement. “It is time for me to hand over to someone else to run this business and the recent change in ownership of Travelport is the right occasion for this to happen. I firmly believe that Travelport’s new investors, Siris Capital and Evergreen Coast Capital, will be good for the company and I am delighted to be handing over to an executive as well tenured and experienced in travel technology as Greg Webb.”
In recent years Travelport had grown in Asia but floundered in the U.S. and Europe, and had made strategic investments to turn its business around. When Skift examined Travelport’s success as a public company over the last half-decade, it became clear that the company struggled to compete against its larger peers.
So, who better to help Travelport compete against Sabre and Amadeus than Webb, the longtime Sabre executive? Webb led Sabre Travel Network, the company’s biggest division, for nearly six years after serving as Sabre’s chief marketing officer for five years. Most recently he helped run Oracle Hospitality.
It will be interesting whether new leadership and the shift to a private company can help Travelport compete against its rivals. History shows it will be an uphill battle.