Ctrip, Blackstone Said to Mull Bids for ProSieben Travel Arm

  • German media giant attracts interest for Etraveli business
  • Etraveli could fetch as much as 500 million euros in sale

Ctrip.com International Ltd., the biggest Chinese trip-booking website, is among suitors weighing bids for German media giant ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE’s online travel business, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

Buyout firms including Blackstone Group LP are also considering offers for ProSiebenSat.1’s Etraveli AB unit, the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. The Uppsala, Sweden-based business could fetch as much as 500 million euros ($544 million) in a sale, according to one of the people.

ProSiebenSat.1 is reviewing its online travel business and is getting “broad interest” from a mix of financial and strategic investors, Chief Executive Officer Thomas Ebeling said on a call with reporters Thursday. It’s in the middle of a process that it hopes to complete in the coming months, according to Ebeling. 

Etraveli, which operates in 46 countries, provides airline tickets and hotel accommodation under brands including Gotogate, Supersaver and Travelstart. ProSiebenSat.1 agreed to buy Etraveli in 2015 in a deal valuing the Swedish online travel agency at about 235 million euros. 

Representatives for Blackstone, Ctrip and ProSiebenSat.1 declined to comment.

Click here to read how Ctrip is challenging Priceline in global travel.

Skyscanner Acquisition

A sale of Etraveli would add to recent deals in the travel industry including KKR & Co.’s purchase of adventure-travel specialist Travelopia from TUI AG. Ctrip, which has a market value of about $28 billion, bought U.K. travel search site Skyscanner Ltd. last year for 1.4 billion pounds ($1.8 billion).

That deal followed an earlier agreement by Ctrip to invest in Indian peer MakeMyTrip Ltd. and its 2015 purchase of a controlling stake in Travelfusion, a U.K. low-cost carrier aggregator. Ctrip had net cash and cash equivalents of about $5 billion at the end of March, according to its latest earnings report.

“International market will be a huge opportunity for growth for years to come,” Ctrip Chairman James Liang told analysts on an earnings call this week. “We are open to investing and partnering with technology and travel product leaders in the world.”

A sale of Etraveli should create value for ProSiebenSat.1 shareholders, Berenberg analysts including Sarah Simon wrote in a March research note. Etraveli has been growing at a double-digit rate per year, and leading travel businesses like Priceline Group Inc. and Expedia Inc. have materially re-rated since it was bought, according to the report.

— With assistance by Jonathan Browning, Sarah Syed, David Ramli, and Stefan Nicola

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