RealTime IT News

Expedia Bolsters Its European Presence

About-to-be-acquired online travel company Expedia Inc. is bolstering its European presence with a joint venture deal with SNCF Grandes Lignes in France, the state-owned railways group.

Expedia said that as a result of the deal French travelers will be able to book flights, hotels, rail and car rentals via an enhanced SNCF site, which claims to be the top online site for e-tourism in France and offers rail booking capabilities for traveling through Europe.

Financial arrangements were not disclosed. Bellevue, Wash.-based Expedia will contribute its technology, helping to bolster its foothold in Europe. It already has localized services in the United Kingdom and Germany.

SNCF will own 53 percent of the joint venture through its subsidiary, GL e-commerce, while Expedia has a 47 percent stake. Denis Wathier, managing director at voyages-sncf.com, will serve as president of the venture.

"By adding valuable flight, lodging, and car rental services, the joint venture will create a new competitor in the online travel industry," said Simon Breakwell, senior vice president, international at Expedia.

Expedia is being acquired by Barry Diller's USA Networks Inc.

SNCF Grandes Lignes set up its subsidiary, GL e-Commerce, in June a year ago to manage and develop its interactive business.