Travelstart, Club Travel Group, Amadeus Capital, subsidiary, acquisition, Thebe Tourism,
Travelstart CEO Stephan Ekbergh (left) and Club Travel MD Wally Gaynor. (photo: Amadeus Capital)

Sweden’s Travelstart to acquire Club Travel Group

The online travel platform Travelstart, which had its start in Sweden, has signed a deal to secure a 100% stake in Africa’s Club Travel Group.

Amadeus Capital-backed online travel platform Travelstart continues its growth in Africa with a deal to wholly acquire Club Travel Group.

Travelstart was founded in Sweden in 1999 and “pioneered online travel in Scandinavia”, then launched in South Africa in 2006.

The acquisition will boost Travelstart’s offering by “adding Club Travel’s established complementary corporate and franchise divisions, creating a formidable full-service African travel group”, it says.

Club Travel was established in 1987 and has grown from a single branch into “an award-winning travel agency which includes leisure travel, over 400 branded and non-branded franchises and a corporate travel division”.

“We love Club Travel because like us they have a long history in discount travel,” said Travelstart CEO Stephan Ekbergh. “Travelstart is strong in the consumer segment and we want to bring consumerisation to the corporate and government sectors, where Club Travel is an emerging star.”

“Travelstart shares a common mission which is to make travel easier for customers. Our team is excited to partner with them to build an amazing long-term business over the next decade,” said Wally Gaynor, Club Travel’s managing director and founder. Gaynor will retain a seat on the board.

Up in Africa
While Africa’s travel and tourism market is worth an estimated $194 billion, online purchasing by consumers is still beginning to grow.

With the acquisition, Travelstart and Club Travel enter cooperation which will enable the former to expand its business and reach new customers, and the latter to gain the expertise to deliver digital product innovation and remain competitive, the companies say.

Club Travel will continue as a standalone company within the Travelstart portfolio. Thebe Tourism Holdings (Thebe), the majority shareholder of the Club Travel Group since 2009, will sell its stake in the Club Travel Group to Travelstart. Thebe and Travelstart will jointly invest in and own Club Travel Corporate.

“The deal is a response to the changes in travel in Southern Africa as consumer and corporate travel markets increasingly favour technology-driven solutions. We are excited to partner up with the team from Travelstart,” said Jerry Mabena, CEO at Thebe Tourism.

The closing of the deal is subject to the approval of the competition authorities.

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