World Travel Buys Deckchair.com

[London, ENGLAND] Once valued at nearly US $30 million,
Sir Bob Geldof’s online travel business Deckchair.com
has been acquired by World Travel Holdings for just
US $4.5 million plus a future, performance-related
payment of up to US $8.4 million.

Rock musician Geldof, famed for his Live Aid work,
has not been as successful online as many people
expected. Into the venture he invested some of the
US $10 million raised from the sale of his television
production house Planet 24 to Carlton Communications.

“Irritation is usually the spur for me to do something,
that’s why I created deckchair.com,” Geldof says on
the site.

No doubt that is why he sold it, having made
a quarter of the 51 staff redundant last month.

The high-profile Geldof has consistently made
headlines for his online business and succeeded in
capturing plenty of visitors to the site. Deckchair
claims to have a quarter of a million customers
for its online travel booking service.

Cardiff-based World Travel Holdings, which says it
will retain the deckchair.com brand, has concentrated
on developing its technology but has been relatively
unsuccessful in attracting customers. It floated
on the Alternative Investment Market in May last
year and posted a pre-tax loss of US $9.7 million
for 2000.

Analysts may feel that deckchair.com needs the
support of a profitable company, rather than one
which has seen losses deepen over the past twelve
months. The fact is, the European online travel
market does not offer too many opportunities for
mergers, and World Travel represented one of
deckchair.com’s few opportunities for merger.

World Travel will pay for the acquisition in shares, loan
notes, and options.

Etienne de Villiers and Clive Dolman, both members of
the deckchair.com board, will join the board of
World Travel, along with Bob Geldof himself. It is
probable that World Travel’s board meetings will be
considerably more lively than ever before, especially
if the collective balance sheet does not improve.

As well as its online ticketing business, Deckchair
owns high street travel agency Soho Travel and
the travel information site Kasbah.com.

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