Lastminute.com purchased in £76m deal

<p>Swiss travel firm Bravofly Rumbo has purchased Lastminute.com.</p>

Online travel booking service Lastminute.com has been sold to a Swiss travel firm in a $120 million (£76 million) deal.

Bravofly Rumbo purchased the company from US tech firm Sabre Holdings which has owned Lastminute.com in 2005. Back then the booking service was valued at £577 million, down from the £768 million when it floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2000. Now its value has fallen further with the Swiss company able to purchase the site at a knockdown price.

Despite reaching a peak valuation, within just weeks of floating on the stock exchange, the company saw a dip in prices. Shares dropped below the initial floatation price and it took the firm three years to make a pre-tax profit.

Founded by Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman in October 1998, Lastminute.com came to prominence during the dot.com boom of the early 2000s. It allowed customers to book low cost holidays with only a few weeks' notice and was one of the first companies that promoted booking breaks over the internet as opposed to using a travel agent.

Under the terms of the agreement, Bravofly Rumbo will take over all of Lastminute'com's global operations in nations such as the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Sabre stated that the acceptance of the offer is subject to completing employee information and consultation processes. Officials are expecting the deal to be completed in the first quarter of 2015.

Fabio Cannavale, chairman of Bravofly Rumbo Group, said: "Lastminute.com is the perfect fit for Bravofly Rumbo Group. Its business complements and expands our offering in Europe and, with its strong presence in the hotel and vacation sector, diversifies our product revenue streams."

The Bravofly Rumbo head heralded the "iconic brand" that Lastminute.com has and believes it is recognised by over 90 per cent of European consumers.

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