Skift Take

Two of the largest corporate travel agencies want to join forces to create a single giant.

Executives of Amex GBT had an investor call Monday shortly after it announced plans to acquire CWT for $570 million.

Two of the largest travel agencies in the world, the combined company would have revenue of between $3.28 billion to $3.35 billion, according to Paul Abbott, CEO of Amex GBT.

Abbott and other executives used the call to outline key considerations.

Expanding Business

Abbott has mentioned previously that acquisitions are part of Amex GBT’s strategy to grow in an industry where many companies still book business travel manually. 

“Global business travel spend represents a large under-penetrated opportunity of $1.4 trillion in 2024,” Abbott said during the call. “So we see significant opportunity to continue to drive share gains and growth both organically and organically.”

CWT strengthens various parts of the business, he said. CWT has about 4,000 clients in industries including energy, resources and marine, media, entertainment and sports, life sciences, and defense and government. 

“We also have a footprint in some of those, and it will give us sufficient volume in those industry segments to really create dedicated verticals for those specific industries,” he said. “And those are verticals we like. They’re verticals which have more complexity, more value, and tend to have high levels of customer retention and customer loyalty.”

About 35% of CWT’s business comes from small- and medium-sized companies. That’ll increase Amex GBT’s business in that area by about 35% and will increase sales by about $5 billion, Abbott said.

CWT also has a professional-services division for meetings and events as well as for consulting services, which Amex GBT plans to use to grow its footprint in that area.

Amex GBT acquired Hogg Robinson Group for $575 million in 2018, and acquired Egencia from Expedia in 2021. Each of those deals led to a 24% increase in incremental revenue, according to Karen Williams, chief financial officer, during the call. 

Williams said Amex GBT has largely finished integrating Egencia. Now that team will turn their attention toward integrating CWT. 

Cost Savings 

The combined entity achieve savings of about $155 million within three years, with about 35% of that amount expected in 2025, Amex GBT said.

Williams said about 80% of that is related to improved efficiency from consolidation, and the rest is related to vendor optimization. 

The executives did not give more specific examples about where that efficiency will come from or if there are layoffs expected.

Artificial Intelligence 

Both companies have been experimenting with integrating the latest advancements in AI. 

Amex GBT said in February that it would be launching an internal AI initiative to increase focus on strengthening its products, and now the company is expected to benefit from what CWT has learned as well. 

CWT this year debuted an AI-based chatbot as a first stop for customer service and has had an AI-based analytics tool for several years. 

“We expect AI and automation to be a significant opportunity for us,” Williams said.

Regulatory Approval

Being two of the largest travel agencies in the world, there’s a chance for some pushback when it comes to regulatory approval. 

Some big deals in other sectors of the travel industry have been squashed for that reason. 

Eric Bock, chief legal officer, said he believes the transaction will close as planned. 

“We will be making some regulatory filings in the jurisdictions, including the United States, where they’re required — but we’re confident that this transaction should close in the second half of the year. So that’s our plan, and we’ll move as promptly as possible to make that happen.”

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Tags: amex gbt, artificial intelligence, corporate travel, cwt, mergers and acquisitions, the prompt

Photo credit: Amex GBT plans to acquire CWT. Rudy and Peter Skitterians / Pixabay

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