Ctrip.com International, the largest online travel company in China, has signed a “definitive agreement” to acquire Skyscanner, the UK-based travel search site.
Under the terms of the deal, Ctrip will acquire all of Skyscanner’s shares from the company’s existing majority shareholders, before making an offer to purchase the remaining shares from other shareholders. The agreement values Skyscanner at approximately GBP1.4 billion (US$1.7bn).
The boards of directors of both companies have already approved the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of 2016.
“Skyscanner is one of the largest travel search platforms in the world,” said James Jianzhang Liang, co-founder & executive chairman of Ctrip. “Ctrip and Skyscanner share the same passion and dedication in providing travellers around the world with better services.
“This acquisition will strengthen long-term growth drivers for both companies. Skyscanner will complement our positioning at a global scale, and we will leverage our experience, technology and booking capabilities to help Skyscanner,” he added.
Following the acquisition, Skyscanner’s current management team, led by co-founder & CEO Gareth Williams, will continue to manage the company independently as part of the Ctrip group.
“Ctrip is the clear market leader in China and a company we can learn a huge amount from,” said Williams. “Today’s news takes Skyscanner one step closer to our goal of making travel search as simple as possible for travellers around the world.
“Ctrip and Skyscanner share a common view – that organising travel has a long way to go to being solved. To do so requires powerful technology and a traveller-first approach. In taking the next step to achieving our goal, Skyscanner will remain operationally independent and our growing global team will continue to innovate and deliver the products travellers know and love. It’s an exciting time for our business, our partners and the travellers who use us,” he added.
The acquisition marks the latest step in Ctrip’s expansion strategy; in the last 12 months the company has acquired stakes in Chinese rival Qunar and Indian OTA MakeMyTrip. US online travel giant Priceline owns a stake in Ctrip.