Online travel agency Expedia to buy rival Orbitz for $1.33 billion

Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:59pm EST
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By Jeffrey Dastin and Diane Bartz

(Reuters) - Online travel company Expedia Inc said on Thursday that it would buy Orbitz Worldwide Inc for about $1.33 billion in cash to bring on the rival's programmers and widen its customer base.

While Expedia and larger rival Priceline Group, have embarked on acquisitions sprees to dominate the online travel business, three antitrust experts say the Orbitz deal is likely to get U.S. regulatory approval.

"There's no entry barriers," said Andre Barlow, a partner in Washington law firm Doyle, Barlow & Mazard PLLC.

Expedia and Priceline face increasing competition from the likes of Google Inc, airlines and hotel chains, which also sell itineraries on their websites.

Shares of Orbitz, whose brands include CheapTickets and ebookers, were up nearly 22 percent at $11.73 in afternoon trading, just shy of the $12-per-share deal price.

Expedia stock rose 15 percent to $90.02. Shares of TripAdvisor Inc, which Expedia spun off in 2011, rose more than 23 percent as investors speculated that it would be another industry target.

Expedia bought Travelocity in January and Wotif Group in November. Besides running the website that bears its name, it also owns, Hotwire and a host of other brands.

In terms of future acquisitions, Expedia Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said during a call Thursday with investors: "We have got plenty on our plate, and we're not necessarily looking to jump around in the (coming) weeks or months."   Continued...

CEO of Expedia, Inc. Dara Khosrowshahi attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 13, 2012.  Reuters/Jim Urquhart