Friday, November 09, 2007

Priceline back for more in Asia with acqusition of Agoda

Announcement today just ahead of the Priceline earnings release that they have acquired the Thailand based merchant hotel website Agoda. No hint as to price in statement but includes a comment that Agoda's 2007 YTD gross bookings (to 31 Oct) were US$31mm up 122% on the previous year. This is Priceline's second go at the Asian market. The joint venture with Hutchison Whampoa is still active in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan under the name your own price model. Had established a JV in Australia under the brand MyPrice but it folded within days of launch at the height of the dotcom boom years. Is also a model shift for PCLN as Agoda is a pay upfront business, not retail model.

UPDATE - have just seen the 8k filing which puts the purchase price at US$15,074,693 up front (with some in escrow) and potential earn out for three years (or more if "disruptions in the Asian travel market") for up to $141.6mm based on gross bookings and earnings targets (not disclosed)

UPDATE 2 - 7 Jan 08 e-tid are reporting the transaction as closed (reg'd required) and giving the first hints at the integration plans. The article says that the Agoda business will continue to be run independently which we can assume means no brand or business model change (ie merchant to retail). Is inevitable that we such a large earn out component that integration activities will be limited.

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