People, Travel

Skyscanner Sold to China Travel Firm Ctrip in $1.75b Deal

The website currently serves 60 million monthly active users and is available in over 30 languages.The website currently serves 60 million monthly active users and is available in over 30 languages. International Ltd , China's biggest online travel company, has bought Skyscanner, the Scotland-based travel search business, in a deal valuing the company at about $1.75 billion.

Skyscanner, a result of CEO and co-founder Gareth Williams' frustration with finding cheap flights, enables users to compare prices from different travel sites when searching for flights, hotels, and rental cars.

The website currently serves 60 million monthly active users and is available in over 30 languages, according to Reuters.

Skyscanner was reported to be exploring a sale or an initial public offering.

The company was valued at $1.6 billion in a funding round in January, when it raised 128 million pounds from a group of investors that included Malaysia's sovereign fund, Khazanah Nasional, and Yahoo Japan Corp.

Skyscanner's current management team will continue to manage its operations independently after the close of the deal by the end of 2016, Ctrip said.

The deal will mainly consist of cash, with the rest consisting of Ctrip ordinary shares and loan notes.

Williams and his two partners who helped launch the website are set for a windfall of up to $497 million.

Dozens of staff who own much smaller stakes in the Edinburgh-based firm are also in line to make thousands of pounds each if they decide to sell their shares.

Skyscanner’s chief executive, Gareth Willams, 47, said the firm remained “very much a British company” and that none of its 500 UK-based staff would lose their jobs, according to The Guardian.

But the sale will raise concerns about foreign takeovers, coming just a day after the chancellor, Philip Hammond, promised to stem the flow of British firms being sold to foreign investors before reaching their full potential.

The deal is now set to complete by the end of the year. Ctrip, which is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York, merged with Qunar, another travel company, earlier this year. The deal gave the Chinese internet giant Baidu a 25pc stake in the company.

Gerard Grech, the chief executive of Tech City UK, said Mr Hammond would have to provide more support to entrepreneurs if he wanted start-ups to remain independent for longer, The Telegraph reported.

“If the Chancellor wants to see fewer companies snapped up by overseas companies, there needs to be a continued shift, which the government is focused on, towards optimizing the best conditions possible for entrepreneurs to build great businesses and go all the way, from late stage investment to an entrepreneurial culture," he said.

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