May 22, 2015

Expedia gives up on battle for China


The company sold its 62.4% stake in China’s Elong travel website to four buyers. Among them is Ctrip, which is now more firmly ensconced as the top player in China’s competitive online travel market. The two companies have agreed to cooperate with each other on “certain travel product offerings for specified geographic markets.”

Ctrip, China’s top travel site, this afternoon announced it has taken a US$400 million stake in long-time arch-rival eLong. The deal, which closed today, was done by acquiring eLong shares from Expedia. Ctrip now has a 37.6 percent stake in its erstwhile rival.

Expedia has sold off its entire 62.4 percent stake in eLong, worth US$671 million, by selling the remaining shares to three other buyers (Keystone Lodging Holdings, Plateno Group, and Luxuriant Holdings), the US-based company said today. Expedia’s brief statement did not make clear why it’s exiting eLong.

The huge Expedia sell-off marks a major sea-change in China’s highly competitive travel ecommerce sector. It seems to be a huge win for Ctrip, which has now tamed its closest competitor.

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