Dotcom icon lastminute.com is being acquired by rival on-line travel firm Travelocity for around £606m.
Travelocity is completing the acquisition on behalf of parent Sabre, which is active in all parts of the travel market.
The price paid for lastminute.com includes an acquisition share price of £1.65 a share, lastminute.com debts of around £69m, and £40m of liquid cash held by the company.
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The acquisition share price of £1.65 per share is around 57% above the closing middle-market price of £1.05 per lastminute.com share on 10 May.
Sabre said the addition of lastminute.com, with its well-established consumer brands, will provide its Travelocity business with “greater scale and the leading position in the growing European online travel marketplace”.
Following completion of the acquisition it is intended that Brent Hoberman, currently lastminute.com chief executive officer, will become CEO of the combined lastminute.com and Travelocity European operations.
He will report to Michelle Peluso, president and CEO of Travelocity. Damon Tassone, currently president of Travelocity Europe, will become deputy CEO to Hoberman.
Sabre said other key lastminute.com and Travelocity management members were expected to continue as senior executives within the combined organisation.
"Over the past seven years we have built a business from scratch into one of Europe's leading travel and leisure groups, with over seven million customers and total transactions worth £992m last year", said Hoberman.
Sabre said Europe is the world's largest leisure travel marketplace. In 2004, said Sabre, online penetration reached 9%, but it is expected to more than double to 20% by the end of 2006.
Sabre says it has identified a number of areas for cost savings and revenue synergies to Travelocity.
These areas include the opportunity of streamlined marketing spending across brands, centralising operations and administrative functions, consolidating platforms, sharing technologies and supplier relationships.
Lastminute.com was founded by Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox in 1998. The company now employs around 2,000.