Expedia looks to book a "Down Under" experience

Monday saw the announcement that Expedia, the US-based online travel site, has initiated talks to acquire publicly-listed Australian online travel company Wotif.com. The potential takeover by an investment company set up by Expedia called Emu Australia Investments values Wotif at just over AUD 645m based on the offer of AUD 3.06 per share.

Growth via acquisition is something that Expedia has historically been keen to explore, having been an active buyer since it was sold by Microsoft for over $1.5bn in July 2001. The company was busy on the acquisition trail between 2002 and 2004 snapping up various smaller online travel companies and tour operators, but not surprisingly took a vacation from deals between mid-2008 and late 2010 during the global economic downturn. Expedia has been gradually putting its toe back into the water in terms of deals between late 2010 and the beginning of 2013, but the Wotif purchase is its second within the space of two weeks after the company announced on 26th June an offer for French car rental company Auto Escape. 

Both the Auto Escape and Wotif deals are subject to regulatory approval, but if the Wotif acquisition gets both regulatory and shareholder approval then it paves the way for Expedia to expand its presence in to the Asia-Pacific region.