NEW YORK – Sabre Holdings Corp., said Tuesday it intends to acquire the 30 percent of online reservations provider Travelocity.com it does not already own for $345 million, hoping to reunite two of the world's largest purveyors of travel-related reservations.
Southlake, Texas-based Sabre said it would initiate a cash tender offer on March 5 or shortly after to acquire the 15 million Travelocity shares it doesn't own for $23 each.
The offer price represents a nearly 20 percent premium to Travelocity's closing stock price of $19.20 on Friday. Travelocity shares jumped more than 28 percent to $24.60 in early trading on the Nasdaq market Tuesday as investors bet the company could obtain an even sweeter deal.
Sabre currently owns a roughly 70 percent equity stake in Travelocity, which it formed in 1996, but controls only a 15 percent voting stake.
Entering Tuesday's trading, Travelocity shares were off some 59 percent from the $47 per share where they debuted in March 2000. Sabre said it believes the long-term strategies of the two companies are now converging and, by combining, they will be able to deliver better value to suppliers and travelers across multiple platforms.
The transaction at the proposed price would be neutral to Sabre's 2002 earnings, Sabre said.
Fort Worth, Texas-based Travelocity.com said it had formed a special committee to review the offer. The committee is receiving financial advice from Salomon Smith Barney and legal advice from Locke Liddell & Sapp LLP.
If completed, the merger would create the world's dominant travel destination company, offering reservation services to everyone from travel agents and corporate clients to Web-savvy bargain hunters.
Sabre, which got its start as the reservations system for American Airlines , formed Travelocity in an early attempt to move its travel reservations capabilities online. Travelocity.com went public in early 2000, after Sabre acquired publicly held rival Preview Travel
The offer is not contingent on Sabre obtaining financing, although Sabre said it "may in the future consider capital raising opportunities, including equity or equity-related securities."
To complete the tender offer, Sabre will need to acquire a more than 90 percent of Travelocity's common stock. The company would then acquire any shares not tendered during the offer period through a "short-form" merger at the same cash price per share.