Opodo-eDreams-GoVoyages lauded as new European agency powerhouse
AXA Private Equity and Permira Funds, the two investment giants behind the plan to bring the three OTAs together into a single corporate entity, claim the newly formed group is one of the biggest players in online travel in Europe.
Although the union between GoVoyages and eDreams was expected to complete without any problems, regulatory approval for the acquisition of Opodo from Amadeus was only given the green light by the European Commission at the end of May.
The official formation of the group was made in a statement by co-owner AXA and includes a number of management changes, including the departure of Opodo CEO Ignacio Martos.
Javier Pérez-Tenessa, co-founder of eDreams, will become CEO of the group, while Nicolas Brumelot, co-founder of GO Voyages will be deputy CEO. Primera and AXA will be given seats on the new board of directors.
Mauricio Prieto, co-founder of eDreams, is the new chief marketing officer across the three brands, although all will retain their existing mid-management structures, main country offices and identities.
Individually the brands are well positioned in many markets across Europe – Opodo in the UK, France, Germany and in Scandinavia, eDreams in Spain, Italy and Portugal, and Go Voyages in France.
Opodo, GoVoyages and eDreams managed to achieve growth rates of 30% during the recent downturn, AXA claims, with all three also delivering record sales during 2010.
The backers of the new group are clearly not intent on just sitting back, now that the various elements of deal have finally completed.
AXA Equity CEO Dominique Senequier says the new group will push into other international markets, while there was also plenty of rhetoric this week about a next strategic phase for the group.
The formation also marks the official end of Amadeus‘s involvement with Opodo, almost 11 years since the online travel agency was founded by a string of airlines as part of a plan to head off the growth of Expedia and Lastminute.com in Europe, with the GDS taking a controlling stake in 2004.
Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.