Abel Zhao, co-founder & CEO of FreeD Group, a technology innovator that specializes in proprietary enterprise application solutions, has acquired 75-year-old Connexus Travel from the parent company of Cathay Pacific, Swire Group. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Founded in 2015, FreeD Group is a travel technology startup offering proprietary SaaS solutions for sales and marketing. The company uses AI [artificial intelligence], big data and machine learning technologies to deliver end-to-end digital solutions connecting platforms, brands and service providers.
“We see tremendous growth potential for Connexus because of its long history of excellent services and the synergies that will be generated between Connexus and FreedD,” said Zhao in the press release. “The positive outcomes we envisage include business opportunities spanning travel services, e-commerce, marketing services and brand loyalty programs, all of which will be underpinned by a comprehensive range of digitalized services and solutions. Ultimately, we anticipate Connexus Travel to follow in the footsteps of FreeD Group and transform into a global brand.”
Headquartered in Hong Kong, FreeD has over 250 professionals from 22 different regions across the globe and operates in more than 10 markets globally. FreeD clients and partners include major names such as Google, BMW, FIFA World Cup, Samsung, China Mobile and LG.
The startup raised a $15 million Series B in June 2022, led by Daiwa ACA APAC Growth Fund and ACA Partners Pte. Ltd. Investors also included Hong Kong property developer Chinachem Group, Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks’ Corporate Venture Capital Fund, Radiant Tech Ventures and startup accelerator SOSV’s Select Fund.
The acquisition of Connexus Travel follows the startup’s strategy for targeting expansion in Seoul and Shanghai. Established in 1948, Connexus Travel was to first travel management company (TMC) to be registered in Hong Kong, offering services from hotel and travel packages to ticket bookings and visa applications for both domestic and foreign tourists. The company has offices in Beijing and Shanghai and obtained a local licence in Beijing in 2009. After 70 years of operation, Connexus Travel has become a trusted name for corporate, leisure and MICE travel.
“We will leverage our position as a market leader and the development plans with FreeD to expand our services not only in Hong Kong and China, but also to the markets where FreeD currently operates,” said Eric Lau, general manager of Connexus Travel.
The startup also plans to expand its digital solutions to reach the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.