Skift Take

Some travel companies — Ebix among others — are rumored to be considering taking over all of the cash-strapped Cox & Kings.

Things are not looking good for Cox & Kings. The famous tour operator, one of the longest-standing travel companies worldwide, is deep in debt.

Now, the company is losing part of its business in India, where it is based. EbixCash, the Indian subsidiary of insurance software company Ebix, signed an agreement with Cox & Kings Ltd to take over the legacy tour operator’s business travel clients. It will transfer them to Mercury Travel, which is the corporate travel division of EbixCash.

This transfer applies to all of Cox & Kings’ contracts with corporate clients in India, “across the length and breadth of the country,” the press release states. On top of this, some of the “key, core employees” of Cox & Kings’ India operations will also be transferred to the EbixCash payroll, starting immediately. By signing this agreement, EbixCash hopes to double its corporate travel revenue by the end of 2019.

“We are simply transferring the corporate agreements of Cox & Kings to ensure that the customers continue to be well serviced and looked after,” said Naveen Kundu, managing director of the EbixCash Mercury Travel Division. “Our vast experience, success record in the corporate travel business will be key in servicing the corporates and they shall benefit from our bouquet of travel and technology products.”

This announcement is only the latest in a string of bad news for Cox & Kings, which closed down its Australian/New Zealand operations just last week. A few days later, luxury travel agency Virtuoso announced it had officially ended its partnership with Cox & Kings in the U.S. and Dubai, citing the tour operator’s ongoing financial troubles.

Cox & Kings is $500 million in debt. Of that, $100 million is short-term debt, which is due soon. Fears are rising that the company may meet the same fate as Thomas Cook, the world famous travel brand which collapsed Monday after 178 years in the industry.

There is speculation that Ebix, MakeMyTrip, Thomas Cook India, and Abercrombie & Kent, are all considering a Cox & Kings acquisition.

In 2018, the company acquired Mumbai-based Mercury Travel and the Delhi-based Leisure Corporation, combining them to serve both the business and luxury traveler. It recently signed an agreement to buy Indian online travel agency Yatra, in part to increase its presence in the corporate travel and meetings and events market.

As Ebix’s Indian subsidiary, EbixCash provides software and e-commerce services to businesses within India, and currently has over 9,800 corporate clients.

“All these corporates were already being serviced by Cox and Kings using EbixCash’s technology platform Zillious. That further ensures a seamless experience for all the constituents involved in this transfer,” Kundu said.


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Tags: cox and kings, ebix, india, thomas cook

Photo credit: Travelers at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. plynoi / Flickr

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