Thursday, January 25, 2007

Orbitz-Ebookers mutterings

Much rumour and speculation in the industry this week, once again, about the future of Orbitz/Ebookers et al.

The latest round of titter tatter began on Tuesday when the New York Times published a story about Travelport considering a spin-off of its Orbitz US online travel agency, "less than six months after leaving the public markets", and perhaps even here in London.

Tim Hughes commented here that perhaps a reason for the London listing could be to avoid the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.

Others, however, are suggesting somewhat darker reasons: roll out the Orbitz brand into Europe at the expense of Ebookers, despite it heading for a major relaunch in April 2007.

For many of us a lot of this doesn't really add up.

Why would Travelport spend a hefty amount on a rebranding of Ebookers, only for it to be scrapped and replaced with a site Europeans are unaware of?

Equally, while Travelport may indeed be considering spinning off various parts of the business, despite only eight months or so since its $4.3 billion takeover by Blackstone, surely the high profile - and profitable - brands are worth more in the long term?

Bring me a City analyst...

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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