The Kuoni Group has acquired an equity holding
of about 32% in Et-china.com International Holdings Limited
(Et-china). The holding was previously owned by Gandhara Master
The acquisition makes Kuoni the biggest single
shareholder in this important Southern Chinese travel corporation.
Et-china is one of South China's best-known tour operators through
its GZL subsidiary, and also provides a leading internet platform
in China for individual travel arrangements.
The acquisition is a
major step in Kuoni's endeavours to substantially expand its
activities in the fast-growing Chinese travel market.
Founded in Guangzhou in 2000, Et-china today owns a majority stake
in Guangzhou International Travel Services (GZL), which
specialises in group inclusive-tour arrangements both within China
and to destinations abroad.
GZL is one of South China's best-known
travel brands, and also holds a licence to offer foreign travel
Et-china also operates a leading internet platform in
China for air tickets, hotel reservations and rental car
arrangements for individual travellers. And the company further
maintains a joint venture established in 2003 with China Southern
Airlines, one of the country's biggest air carriers, under which it is the
sole distributor of the airline's e-tickets.
With some 160 travel
agencies, its call centre and its well-known internet portal,
Et-china is well positioned within the Chinese travel market. The
company has a customer base of about 1.5 million, and has been
listed on London's AIM stock exchange since August 2007. Et-china
generated total turnover for 2007 of about CHF 200 million, and
currently has around 1 400 employees.
Kuoni has acquired the
holding of about 32% of Et-china from Gandhara Master Funds Ltd.,
which was the company's biggest single shareholder. The
purchase price for the acquisitions of the equity holding amounts
to GBP 5.3 million (around CHF 9.2 million).
Kuoni will also
assume a seat on the Et-china board of directors. In accordance
with the company's articles of incorporation, the Et-china board
has approved Kuoni's acquisition of this stake of over 30% without
the need to make an offer to acquire the company in full. The new
equity holding will be assigned to Division Style within the Kuoni
"In acquiring its holding in Et-china, Kuoni is
embarking on a key long-term strategic partnership with one of
China's most important travel corporations," said Peter Rothwell,
CEO of the Kuoni Group. "This expansion of our activities in China
is one of the biggest milestones to date in the more than 100
years of Kuoni's company history."
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