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Cendant Says Bye-Bye to Trip.com

Real estate and travel company Cendant is buying up the Trip Network, said to be the fourth-largest full service online travel company, and will make Trip's Cheap Tickets operation into its primary consumer brand, closing Trip.com.

Financial terms were not disclosed although Cendant said "the amounts were not material"

The acquisition was made by buying the Trip Network stock from an independent business trust, said New York City-based Cendant, adding that the Trip.com brand (relaunched only a year ago with a $40 million ad campaign) is going away, effective immediately.

Trip.com was acquired, along with its sister site CheapTickets, as part of Cendant's October 2001 $2.9 billion purchase of Galileo International, a creator of distribution technology for the travel industry.

Cendant said today that the current transaction is in line with its strategy "to simplify its accounting through the acquisition of affiliated companies" and to provide its investors with transparent financial information.

Although the Trip.com brand is to be phased out, Cendant said that it plans to maintain its collection of travel related Web sites under the Trip Network umbrella and Trip.com's booking engine will remain as the backbone of the company's third party, private label Web site strategy.

Cendant established Trip Network more or less as an off-the-balance sheet holding in the form of a trust in 2001.

"Despite the progress Trip.com made in the last year, it is simply not feasible to continue operating two separate brands, especially in the current geopolitical environment," said Cendant CEO Sam E. Galeotos. "Clearly, Cheap Tickets is the stronger consumer brand."

In February, Cheap Tickets, acquired by Cendant in 2001, saw nearly 6 million unique visitors, a year-over-year increase of 123 percent, according to comScore Media Metrix figures. Trip Network, with about 179 employees in Denver, is the fourth largest full service online travel agent behind Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz.