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Kuoni Buys Online Travel Manager Gullivers for $720 Million

Kuoni Reisen Holding AG agreed to acquire Gullivers Travel Associates, operator of the Octopus online travel service, from Travelport for $720 million to expand its Web-based offerings.

The purchase of GTA will allow Kuoni to increase destination management services on the Internet, including hotel reservations, bus services, transfers and sightseeing, the Swiss company said today in a statement.

The acquisition “will transform us into one of the leading global providers of online destination management services,” Kuoni Chief Executive Officer Peter Rothwell said in the statement. Gullivers operates in 26 cities with almost 12 million hotel nights booked last year, Kuoni said.

“Considering they paid a multiple of 8.4 times adjusted Ebitda, GTA is no bargain,” said Chris Burger, an analyst at Helvea AG in Zurich.

Gullivers boosted adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization by 42 percent last year to $84 million, Kuoni said. Revenue rose 10 percent to $294 million. London-based Gullivers has business-to-business operations and also sells directly to travelers through its Octopus website.

Kuoni declined 7 Swiss francs, or 1.6 percent, to 425.75 francs in Zurich trading at 9:28 a.m. local time.

Kuoni is asking shareholders to increase share capital through a discounted rights offering with target proceeds of about 250 million francs ($270 million). The Zurich-based company has also secured committed credit facilities of 600 million francs.

Credit Suisse is acting as Kuoni’s financial adviser on the transaction and is managing the planned capital increase, the bank said by e-mail today.

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