Since announcing plans to split last year, Cendant has issued two profit warnings, blaming Ebookers, the European travel site acquired in 2004.

"We had a model which said Ebookers was going to make $80m this year and in fact it's going to lose $30m . . . because we're trying to maintain consumer awareness by marketing. But we're marketing a site that doesn't work nearly as well as it should and will in 2007," said Henry Silverman, chairman and chief executive of Cendant, in a recent Financial Times article.

The Ebookers acquisition was masterminded by Sam Katz, the former head of Cendant's travel division, who bought several European travel businesses in 2004. He was fired by Mr Silverman at the end of 2005.

"My management style is to give you an opportunity to perform and if you fail you've got to be accountable for it. Sam was quite aware of the fact that we failed."

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