Travel Agents

Helloworld-AOT deal looks set for thumbs-up

Anne Majumdar

Qantas and Europe Voyager, the major shareholders in the Helloworld business, have confirmed their intention to vote in favour of the merger between Helloworld and AOT, meaning the deal looks likely to proceed.

The merger, announced on Friday, is dependent on shareholder approval which will be sought at an extraordinary general meeting to be held in January 2016.

But in his address at the Helloworld annual general meeting on Friday, chairman Brett Johnson, revealed that Qantas and Europe Voyager had confirmed their intention, “in the absence of a superior proposal”, to vote in favour of the merger.

“As such, it is highly likely that the merger will proceed,” he said.

Meanwhile, Johnson provided an update on the company’s performance, referring to the 2015 financial year as a period of “consolidation” for Helloworld. He underlined TTV of $4.7 billion, revenue of $279 million and an adjusted profit before tax of $6.9 million as a “significant improvement” on losses of $1.7 million in 2014.

“Helloworld’s prompted brand awareness continues to grow amongst travelling Australians, with the latest research confirming a substantial increase to 34% which is up from the November 2014 result of 26% and the April 2014 result of 10%,” he continued.

“The significant increase in awareness is strong validation of our approach and strategy to build the Helloworld brand.”

Johnson said the proposed merger with AOT would “complement” Helloworld’s position, adding inbound, along with additional government and leisure business, to its stable.

“However, the merger proposal clearly impacts the company’s ability to provide any meaningful outlook statement at this time,” he added.

Elizabeth Gaines retired from the board at the end of Friday’s meeting, with Jenny Macdonald stepping into the chief executive role until the completion of the merger when AOT founder and chief executive Andrew Burnes will take the lead.

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