This decision is no surprise. The world has changed a lot since November 2018, when Sabre first proposed buying travel tech vendor Farelogix. Actions by antitrust watchdogs in the UK and the U.S. delayed the deal's approval. Then coronavirus hurt Sabre's finances.
Sabre said Friday it would no longer pursue its acquisition of Farelogix. The move came after a ruling by UK regulators prohibiting the transaction.
The Southlake, Texas-based travel software company made an offer for Farelogix valued at about $360 million in November 2018. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in early April ruled against the deal.
Sabre does intend to appeal the UK watchdog’s ruling to the Competition Appeals Tribunal.
“The long-term effect of such regulatory overreach may negatively impact any company’s future transactions and we believe it should be challenged,” a spokesperson for Sabre said.
“We continue to believe that the transaction was not anti-competitive, a result confirmed by the U.S. federal district court’s decision in Sabre’s favor,” the company said in a statement.
The U.S. Department of Justice has spent April pursuing an appeal of that decision. The Department of Justice — which sued in August to block the merger — had failed to win its case during nearly two weeks of court proceedings.
The coronavirus pandemic has depressed airline-related revenue for Sabre, hurting its finances and causing it to have to furlough a third of its workforce earlier this month.
As part of the deal, Sabre pledged it would pay Farelogix a breakup fee of up to $25 million if it couldn’t close the transaction. Sabre had separately fronted at least $20 million in attorney fees for it and Farelogix to defend the deal, which it probably can’t recover.
Farelogix’s fate is uncertain. During the trial, Farelogix said it had been approached by other potential acquirers in 2017 and 2018, including an unnamed private firm and American Airlines and United Airlines.
“We are disappointed that our plan to join with Sabre is not going forward,” a Farelogix spokesperson said. “However, due to the inherent uncertainty with any regulatory process, we have been well prepared for this possibility. Over the past eighteen months, we have made great strides in advancing our technology infrastructure, optimizing our product delivery, streamlining our operational processes, and implementing new customers.”
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Photo credit: A view of a conference room at the headquarters of travel technology company Sabre in Southlake, Texas. Sabre