Cinven Said to Be Leading Bidder for TUI Hotelbeds Unit

  • Buyout firm said to be in final talks after outbidding others
  • Tour operator may announce deal as early as this week

Buyout firm Cinven Ltd. is the leading bidder to acquire TUI AG’s online hotel booking business Hotelbeds Group, according to people familiar with the matter.

Cinven is in final negotiations to acquire the business after outbidding other buyout firms, said the people, who asked not to be identified because talks are private. TUI may announce a sale as early as this week, though talks could be delayed or fall apart, they said.

TUI, Europe’s largest tour operator, hired banks last year to sell the Hotelbeds unit, which may fetch about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), people familiar with the matter said at the time. Chief Executive Officer Friedrich Joussen is focusing the company on hotels and cruise ships while cutting back online activities in an effort to drive annual operating profit growth.

Representatives for TUI and Cinven declined to comment. A representative for EQT couldn’t immediately comment.

TUI shares fell 3 pence to 983.50 pence at 1:24 p.m. in London trading Monday after earlier rising as much as 2 percent.

Hotelbeds offers rooms to online and traditional travel agencies and airlines with a database of beds at more than 72,000 hotels worldwide, plus transfers and tours.

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