parent Sabre files for $100 million IPO

Travel technology provider and GDS Sabre Corporation has filed a registration in the US ahead of an Initial Public Offering of shares hoping to raise at least $100 million.

The parent of owner Travelocity has not yet determined the number of shares to be sold or the price range but other independent estimates say it could raise up to $750 million.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman, Sachs & Co, BofA Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank Securities are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering. The registration statement was filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday.

Texas-based Sabre, which employs 10,000 people across 60 countries, has been privately owned by TPG and Silver Lake Partner since 2007 and a return to public ownership has been long-expected.

It was previously owned by American Airlines but spun off in an IPO by parent AMR Holdings in 2000.

A number of recent decisions and divestments by Sabre, including a deal which saw Travelocity become a marketing front for rival Expedia in the US and Canada, were seen as a prelude to an IPO.

This came at around the same time that Sabre saw some unexpected changes at the top when chief executive Sam Gilliland was replaced in that role by president Tom Klein and then former Continental Airlines boss Larry Kellner was appointed non-executive chairman, another of Gilliland’s roles.

Last year Lastminute parent Travelocity also took the decision to sell the B-C arm of Holiday Autos and close down its B-B division. The weighty IPO document filed yesterday revealed this decision resulted in a $39 million write-off. Sabre said it made an $11 million loss on the deal.

The document also reveals that the anti-trust legal battle that has been fought in US courts with its former owner American Airlines has so far cost is $222 million. The litigation is one of a number Sabre has been fighting in various jurisdictions, the paperwork sets out.

In the UK it is behind the on-going MedHotels VAT case that has been taken all the way to the Supreme Court and a final decision on which is due any day. This stems from its ownership of the bed bank before it was sold to Thomas Cook and, under holding company Secret Hotels 2, £17 million has been set aside to settle the case.

Trading figures in the IPO filing also show Sabre has been making multi-million dollar net losses since 2008, including $611 million in the fiscal year to December 31 2012 on revenues of £3 billion, although ‘adjusted’ EBITDA figures paint a rosier picture. 




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