Monday, October 15, 2007

WHOOT: Wotif takes the lead, gets backing of the Board and buys out netus

Wotif has taken the clear lead in the battle for WHoever Owns Outright (WHOOT). Filings today confirm not only has the (TVL) board come out and unanimously recommended the Wotif bid but that Wotif is already a substantial shareholder having bought out venture firm Netus' 19.5% stake as well as holding commitments from executives for a further 9.4%.

Wotif have amended their offer to two tiers depending on whether or not they gain 75.1% or 90% acceptance. Presumably a tactic to both entice AOT to sell their almost blocking stake and provide protection if they don't AOT engaged. At 75.1% they have more than enough for control.

Range in valuation of and is thus $55-57mm depending on which threshold they reach. Market cap before the announcement was $61.4 mm so in theory is a discount on market. But in reality this is bid is almost 40% above the price range prior to Webjet's first bid.

What will Wotif do with the business? Could we see the amusing situation where they maintain both the Lastminute and Wotif brands but with Wotif as the last minute brand - focusing on only 28 days out - and Lastminute is the "full service" brand that services 365 days a year. Air is clearly not the priority here (unless I am missing something).

Travel Today have the story here as well

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