SA’s Travel Booking Firm Travelstart To Buy Club Travel Group

Amadeus Capital-backed Travelstart has signed a deal to secure a 100% stake in Southern Africa’s Club Travel Group.

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Travelstart, SA’s Travel Booking Firm, announced on Monday in a statement that it will buy Club Travel Group for an undisclosed amount.

The company said the acquisition will boost its offering by adding Club Travel’s established complementary corporate and franchise divisions, creating a formidable full-service African travel group.

“We love Club Travel because like us they have a long history in discount travel,” said Travelstart’s CEO Stephan Ekbergh.

“Travelstart is strong in the consumer segment and we want to bring consumerization to the corporate and government sectors, where Club Travel is an emerging star.”

While Africa’s travel and tourism market is worth an estimated $194 billion, digital uptake among consumers is still in its growth phase. With the acquisition, Travelstart and Club Travel enter a co-operation which will enable the former to expand its business and reach new customers, and the latter to gain the expertise to deliver digital product innovation and remain competitive.

“Travelstart shares a common mission which is to make travel easier for customers. Our team is excited to partner with them to build an amazing long-term business over the next decade,” said Wally Gaynor, Club Travel’s managing director and founder who will retain a board seat.

Club Travel will continue as a standalone company within the Travelstart portfolio.

Thebe Tourism Holdings (Thebe), the majority shareholder of the Club Travel Group since 2009, will sell its stake in the Club Travel Group to Travelstart. Thebe and Travelstart will jointly invest in and own Club Travel Corporate, a level one B-BBEE rated division of Club Travel Group.

“The deal is a response to the changes in travel in Southern Africa as consumer and corporate travel markets increasingly favour technology-driven solutions. We are excited to partner up with the team from Travelstart,” said Jerry Mabena, CEO at Thebe Tourism.

The closing of the deal is subject to the approval of the Competition Commission.

Travelstart was founded in Sweden in 1999 and pioneered online travel in Scandinavia with two basic principles; using technology to make travel purchases simple and offering customers the best price.

In 2006, the company launched in South Africa and became a household name. Travelstart currently does business across several African countries as well as the GCC area with offices in Cape Town, Lagos, Cairo and Dubai. Travelstart has seen double-digit growth and profitability since inception and is backed by Amadeus Capital Partners and HarbourVest.

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