Travelzoo takes the obvious option, refuses to comment on high-profile sale rumours
Travelzoo is distancing itself from speculation in the US that the company is up for sale and a string of web giants are possible suitors for the travel deals business.
A report by Reuters suggested the publicly listed company is looking to sell and is in the process of hiring financial advisers, a move that not only sent the share price soaring by 25% but was met with a stiff “no comment” from officials in the UK.
Queries directed to senior management in the US were not returned.
While it is normal for a company (especially a listed organisation) to decline to comment on takeover or sale speculation, financial and industry analysts will be watching activity around the brand with a microscope given the names of the protagonists being tipped as buyers for the company.
While Google is inevitably linked with almost every major web acquisition target these days, retail giant Amazon is also being talked of as a potential suitor as well the recently formed European online travel mega-brand Odigeo.
A sale would certainly be one option for the original founder Ralph Bartel, who still owns 53% of the business and remains a director alongside brother and current chairman Holger.
And with the company’s stock having slumped to over a quarter of its value from 12 months ago (100.00 in late-April 2011 compared to around 23.00 just a few weeks back), perhaps its major backers are looking for way out.
Travelzoo’s biggest asset, most industry watchers believe, is the mammoth 24 million database of subscribers to its Top 20 Deals weekly newsletter, a figure which has been on an upward trajectory for years, although growth is said to have slowed recently in Europe.
This slight fault line, alongside an admission that its launch into Local Deals could take longer to capture a significant share of the new market, is said to have caused anxiety amongst investors.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has 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, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.