Leading UK online travel agency Travel Republic has been bought by a travel agency subsidiary belonging to the parent of Middle East airline Emirates.
According to Thomson Reuters the deal with Dnata World Travel was completed on December 29. No other details are included in the report including the value of the transaction.
Dnata World Travel, which has acquired 100% of the Travel Republic shares, is described as a travel agency based in Dubai and a subsidiary of the Emirates Group.
Rumours that Travel Republic was for sale have been circulating in the industry for months and in September managing director Kane Pirie revealed the company was considering its options, including the potential for a float on the stock exchange.
The company was looking for investment to grow and Pirie denied that directors were looking to sell although he said financial advice had been sought from Rothschild after a number of interested parties had approached him.
Travoilution was unable to contact Pirie for a comment on the sale, but he did leave a comment on the story (see below) responding claims from other posters that staff were unhappy about not being informed about the deal.
He said: “Dnata will help accelerate growth. 2012 will be a busy year and we will be continuing to recruit and expand. The transaction is a positive achievement for all Travel Republicans.”
Speculation linking Travel Republic with the UK’s two travel giants Tui Travel and Thomas Cook were wide of the mark, Travel Weekly understanding the main interest in acquiring the company had come from abroad.
For the past six years Travel Republic has been the UK’s leading travel agency to emerge from the move towards dynamic packaging on the back of the rise of the lowcost airlines.
This put the Kingston-Upon-Thames based firm on a collision course with regulators at the CAA which accused it of breaching Atol consumer protection regulations and criminal legal proceedings were started. However, Travel Republic and Pirie personally successfully fought the allegations in court and were found not guilty.
The case against Pirie was dropped after a first magistrates court hearing found him not gulity and before the CAA appealed that judgement.
The agency has recently been expanding across Europe and handles £400 million worth of transactions and two million customers every year. In December 2007 it was named the UK’s fastest growing privately-owned company having seen a 284% sales growth.
The business was set up in 2003, the brainchild of two university friends; Paul Furner and Chris Waite. Pirie joined in 2005 as finance and operations director.