A while back I introduced international readers to the joint venture running Lastminute.com in Australia. At the time Lastminute.com.au was majority owned and operated by Australian pubic company Travel.com.au. I discussed that the privatisation of Sabre (owner of Lastminute.com) meant that Travel.com.au had the right to put the joint venture to Sabre. It was expected by all - me included - that this is exactly what they would do, with the result that Sabre would own the operations of Lasminute.com.au and Zuji.com.au in Australia. However, in a twist that I did not see coming, Travel.com.au has instead waived the put right and bought out Lastminute.com's share of the venture to become the 100% owners of the brand in Australian and New Zealand (here is the stock market filing pdf).
According to the filing the price was $4.75mm (half now, half later). This values the Lastminute.com.au business at $19mm versus the total market cap of TVL at $32mm based on today's close. Announcement was after the close so will have to wait until tomorrow to see what the market thinks.
Produces a fascinating outcome where other than general brand guidelines, Lastminute.com will have no operational control or influence on the Australian business as it goes head to head battling with the Zuji operation. The challenge for the Travel.com.au management and board is that they will have to look outside of the online travel industry for a potential buyer of the business should they ultimately seek to delist as part of a trade sale as it is highly unlikely that any global online travel company other than Sabre would want to operate a Lasminute.com branded business.