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Travel Boutique buys majority stake in Naspers

The company’s services are accessed by 25,000 travel agents in India, Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, South-East Asia and Australia.
BY BEx Bureau
Jul 19, 2018

South African media and technology conglomerate Naspers has sold its majority stake in B2B travel platform Travel Boutique Online (TBO), marking its second strong exit in India in the last three months.

Standard Chartered Private Equity, the private equity arm of Standard Chartered Bank, has acquired a 49% stake in Gurgaon-based TBO from Naspers, which has been, till date, the largest and sole institutional investor in the company.

While the terms of the transaction were not disclosed, sources have told ET that Naspers, which had invested about Rs 110 crore in the company, has earned $42-45 million (Rs 285-306 crore) from its stake sale, giving it in the process a near 200% increase on its six year-old bet.

Additionally, as part of the deal, TBO co-founders Ankush Nijhawan and Gaurav Bhatnagar have now upped their stake in the company, and will now hold a majority position in the venture. It is, however, yet unclear whether there has been a primary infusion of cash into the company as part of the transaction.

While confirming the developments, Ankush Nijhawan, co-founder of TBO Group, declined to provide specifics, citing confidentiality clauses signed between the parties.

Through leveraging SCPEs extensive network and business planning expertise, we would be able to strengthen our position as a leading B2B travel distribution player in the global landscape, Nijhawan said.

ET was the first to report in its September 25 edition that StanChart PE was one of the prominent suitors for TBO. Others that had expressed an interest included ChrysCapital and Multiples Alternate Asset Management.

The overall B2B travel distribution landscape is ripe for consolidation and we believe that in partnership with SCPE, we can leverage our strengths in technology and scale to drive this consolidation, Bhatnagar said in the company-issued statement.

The latest exit by Naspers is the second recorded by the Johannesburg-headquartered internet and media giant in India in 2018. In May, it sold its entire 11.18% stake in Indian online retailer Flipkart to US retail behemoth Walmart Inc for $2.2 billion, recording in the process an internal rate of return, or annualised return, of 32% in dollar terms.

Naspers first invested in TBO Group six years ago and its rewarding to see how the business has grown and advanced in that time, Oliver Rippel, CEO B2C ecommerce at Naspers, said in a statement.

TBO offers services such as airline, train and hotel reservations and holiday package deals to travel agents and acts as an aggregator of these services. It helps charter helicopters and provides car rental, bus booking and travel insurance services.

The companys services are accessed by 25,000 travel agents in India, Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, South-East Asia and Australia.

For Naspers, the broader Indian travel sector has been a happy hunting ground, having also orchestrated the GoIbibos acquisition by larger rival MakeMyTrip in late 2016, a deal, which at the time, marked the largest consolidation to have taken place in the country's internet sector and saw it, along with Tencent, becoming the largest shareholders in the combined entity.

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