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New investors include Sabre and Zoom — what does that tell you about the future of travel management?

American Express Global Business Travel plans to merge with an Apollo Management-backed blank check company that will take the corporate travel giant public, the company announced Friday.

The merger will value Amex GBT at $5.3 billion, and the transaction will generate the agency up to $1.2 billion, including a $335 million worth of private investment in public equity (PIPE). New investors include Sabre, Zoom, Ares Management Corporation and adviser HG Vora.

Amex GBT also obtained commitments for an additional $1 billion term loan facility, to be established under its existing credit agreement to repay $600 million of certain existing term loan facilities and to provide an incremental $400 million of financing for general corporate purposes.

The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022, subject to closing conditions. Once complete, the combined company will be renamed Global Business Travel Group, Inc. However, it will continue to carry out business under its existing name and brand, American Express Global Business Travel, due to an 11-year trademark agreement to take effect upon the deal’s closure.

The travel agency group, which is 50 percent owned by an investor group led by Certares and 50 percent owned by American Express, had only just completed its acquisition of Egencia.

Amex GBT used to be entirely owned by American Express, but was spun off as a joint venture in 2014. At the time, the travel agency received a $900 million investment from the Certares-led group. In 2019, Amex GBT appointed Paul Abbott, former chief commercial officer of American Express, as CEO, in part to help promote technology growth.

“We expect that becoming a listed company will give us the additional investment capacity to strengthen our commitment to providing unrivalled value, choice and experiences to our customers and partners,” said Abbott.

The travel management sector is rapidly consolidating. The pandemic spurred a frenzied 18-month period of restructuring, refinancing and acquisitions in its wake. CWT also recently exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to shore up its finances, pledging to invest $100 million in its myCWT travel management platform.

The listing on the New York Stock Exchange comes as technology-focused rival agencies TripActions and TravelPerk gaining ground. TripActions said it is now valued at $7.25 billion, following a $275 million fundraising round in October, and like TravelPerk has its sights set on expanding in Europe. It recently appointed a new vice president of sales for southern Europe, Zahir Abdelouhab, who will launch and develop the company’s sales operations these regions.

This story is breaking. Please check back for updates.

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Tags: amex gbt, corporate travel, egencia, sabre, spac, travelperk, tripactions, Zoom

Photo credit: American Express Global Business Travel is to merge with an Apollo Management-backed blank check company. Rawpixel / Getty Images