Ctrip and Qunar agree share swap and co-operation

Chinese OTAs Ctrip and Qunar have confirmed a share exchange agreement and business co-operation, a few months or so after a very public spat over a confused takeover bid.

Today’s announcement from Ctrip says that, as a result of the share swap, Qunar’s parent company Baidu will control some 25% of Ctrip’s aggregate voting interest while Ctrip will own shares in Qunar worth 45%.

“Baidu and Ctrip have also agreed to a business cooperation across a broad base of products and services. Baidu expects to continue its existing business cooperation with Qunar,” the statement added.

As a result, there is a lot of movement in terms of the board make-ups of both businesses. Ctrip’s CEO James Liang and COO Jane Sun have joined Qunar’s board of directors, while Baidu’s CEO Robin Li and its head of investments, mergers and  acquisitions Tony Yip have been appointed to Ctrip’s board of directors.

Qunar’s statement adds further board changes, and also talk about Baidu “selling” shares rather than Ctrip’s use of the word “exchange”.

Neither statement talks in cash terms.

The background to this announcement is worth noting. In June this year Qunar told the markets that it had rejected a takeover offer from Ctrip – Ctrip responded by saying that the takeover offer was, in fact, its response to an unsolicited approach by Qunar and that its offer was then been rejected by Qunar.

Ctrip’s statement clearly said: “[Ctrip] is no longer interested in pursuing a potential M&A discussion with Qunar”

A lot has happened since then. It is only six weeks since Baidu announced that it was “strengthening its strategic alliance with Qunar” around the same time that Qunar announced a new corporate structure.

However, today’s announcement is still a significant u-turn and indicative of the constantly changing dynamics of the online travel sector in China. Something must have happened, either operationally or corporately, for Ctrip and Qunar to agree this deal. What that is will likely remain unknown.

Related reading from Tnooz:

China mega-merger brings O2O to the top table, travel and leisure on the menu (October 2015)

Interview: Wu on Alitrip, Alibaba’s travel site, and Chinese outbound travel (October 2015)

China’s online travel sector becomes a game of musical chairs (Aug2015)

Online travel growth in China shows no sign of slowing down (Aug2015)

NB Image by Shuttertock

 

 

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Martin Cowen

About the Writer :: Martin Cowen

Martin Cowen is contributing editor for Tnooz and is based in the UK. Besides reporting and editing, he also oversees our sponsored content initiative and works directly with clients to produce articles and reports.

For the past several years he has worked as a freelance writer, specialising in B2B distribution and technology.

Before freelancing, from 2000-2008, he was launch editor for e-tid.com, the first online-only B2B daily news service for the UK travel sector.

 

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  1. Oz Har Adir

    The way these things evolve in China is quite amazing. The two companies were in an ‘all-out’ war in the hotel space, with Qunar signing 200.000 hotels in a year (comparable to the entire scale of Expedia, globally, in 19 years of development), as a substitute to the relationship with Ctrip. On stage at Phocuswright 2014 the rivalry was ‘on’. And, a year later, comes this solution, which in Western eyes seems like a creation of a monopoly (Ctrip owns Elong and now a 45% share of Qunar). But in China, where the market is also growing very fast, there may still be room for more companies to take meaningful share.

     
 
 

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