Technology

Luxury Escapes CEO breaks silence on potential Qantas, Booking.com or Webjet takeover

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

The boss of Luxury Escapes has responded to reports that Qantas, Booking.com and Webjet are looking to potentially purchase all or some of the online travel business.

The speculation wheel began spinning on Tuesday when The Australian Financial Review published an article in its Street Talk section saying that Qantas was considering a bid for Luxury Escapes “as part of a wider push to diversify the group’s earnings”.

“It is understood Qantas has tapped investment bank Citi for help with due diligence and financing considerations, and is working towards putting an offer to Luxury Escapes’ owners,” the article said.

According to the AFR, Luxury Escapes’ turnover is expected to be around $500 million in FY20, and its annual earnings have been growing at 50 per cent. The Nine-owned publication also noted that the company has a partnership with Qantas’ rewards program.

The AFR believes a deal between Luxury Escapes and Qantas could be finalised “before beach season hits top gear”.

Speculation began to mount yesterday when The Australian published its own take on potential suitors for Luxury Escapes, which it said was up for sale through Macquarie Capital.

According to The Australian, Booking.com is also potentially looking to acquire Luxury Escapes, and Webjet named in the article as a possible buyer too.

Flight Centre is understood to have pulled out of the race due to the price tag, and a Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed to Travel Weekly it was not looking to do a deal with Luxury Escapes.

Webjet declined to comment on the speculation when approached by Travel Weekly, while Booking.com and Flight Centre and did not respond by the time of publishing.

According to the Luxury Escapes website, the business has more than two million subscribers globally, with customers across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, Hong Kong, the US, and the UK.

Luxury Escapes is owned by Lux Group, a privately-owned business based in Melbourne which was founded in 2009 by Jeremy Same and Adam Schwab.

Lux Group has more than 150 team members globally, with major offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Bangalore, Singapore, and San Francisco.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, Cameron Holland denied the company is considering any active deals.

“As a rapidly growing business, we recognise that we are subject to interest and speculation in the market from time to time,” he said.

“There are no current active opportunities being considered by Lux Group. However, we regularly assess the market and consider strategic options which will enable Luxury Escapes to continue to grow its market leadership position and deliver value realisation opportunities to shareholders.

“With strong revenue growth of 30 per cent year on year and recent international expansion, Luxury Escapes has become a global leader in the luxury travel marketplace, particularly when it comes to the new generation of traveller.”

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