SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese travel giant Ctrip.com International Ltd (CTRP.O) has extended its global reach after it agreed to buy travel search website Skyscanner Holdings Ltd in a deal valuing the UK-based company at around 1.4 billion pounds ($1.74 billion).
Ctrip, China’s biggest online travel company, said the majority cash deal for Skyscanner would help strengthen its global position as the ticketing-to-hotels group looks to diversify its business.
The firm, which has backing from Chinese internet giant Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) and U.S. travel company Priceline PCLN.O, topped up its warchest for acquisitions earlier this year when it raised over $2 billion through shares and convertible notes.
“Skyscanner will complement our positioning at a global scale, and we will leverage our experience, technology and booking capabilities to help Skyscanner,” Ctrip co-founder Liang Jianzhang said in a statement.
Scotland-based Skyscanner helps users to compare prices from different travel sites when searching for flights, hotels and rental cars. It currently has 60 million monthly active users and is available in over 30 languages.
Skyscanner, which was reported to be exploring a sale or an initial public offering, was valued at $1.6 billion in a funding round in January, when it raised 128 million pounds from a group of investors that included Malaysia’s sovereign fund, Khazanah Nasional and Yahoo Japan Corp (4689.T).
Ctrip said it expected to complete the deal by the end of 2016. After the deal, Skyscanner’s current management team would continue to manage the firm’s operations independently.
Ctrip’s shares were up 9.2 percent at $44.75 in extended trading.
($1 = 0.80 pounds)
Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in BENGALURU and Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Editing by Maju Samuel and Stephen Coates