Sabre snaps up in £577m deal

The news this morning follows the revelation yesterday that had received an offer, which sent the company's share price soaring over 45% to 150p. Sabre's offer values the company's shares at 165p, which, while an improvement on the the share price of late, is still well below Lastminute's 2000 stock market debut of 380p. The deal, which should be complete by July, would see become part of Travelocity's European operation, with founder and CEO Brent Hoberman take on the running of Lastminute and Travelocity in Europe. In a statement this morning, Sabre said that Travelocity would evaluate its brand country by country, with the intention of positioning as the lead brand in most of the countries in which it operates. It would be likely to operate multiple brands in Europe, a move the company believes will help it maintain a broad online presence while achieving efficiencies in marketing spending. Michelle Peluso, president and CEO of Travelocity, said the deal would give the company a strong position in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and Spain. "This acquisition would bring together two well-regarded brands and two great teams to create the leading position in European online travel," she said. At the same time, unveiled its interim results, showing that it had managed to creep back into profit. It reported earnings before interest, depreciation, taxation and amortisation of £100,000 for the half year ending March 31. This compares with a loss of £2.6m for the same period in 2004. Lastminute was the darling of the British dotcom world when it launched in 1998. Its initial public offering in March 2000 was hugely oversubscribed and its offer price was revised upwards from 230p a share range to 380p a share instead. It weathered the dotcom collapse in 2001 and embarked on an acquisition spree including Med Hotels, First Option and Gemstone Travel, as well as Hoberman said: "Today's offer from Sabre is an endorsement of the achievements of everyone at" UKFast is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

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