Thanks to all the tipsters and commentators that added to my story on a new bidder for Travel.com.au. The mystery bidder is Australian online hotel giant Wotif.com (here is the AustralianIT story). The offer is $0.50 cents in cash or between 0.0893 and 0.1042 Wotif shares or about AU$49.8mm versus Webjet's original offer valued at $42.3mm. This is an aggressive play for Wotif. Not sure why they would want an air business but maybe they are ignoring the air part and seeing all of the value in the Lastminute.com.au business (now 100% owned by Travel.com.au). I see two main reasons why Wotif would want to bid. Either they are hoping to simply push the price up and force Webjet to spend more of their cash reserves on the acquisition leaving less for marketing. Alternatively it is proof that organically Wotif are struggling to find growth out of the Australian market and therefore need to find greater than organic opportunities within Australia to maintain valuation.
UPDATE - the Travel.com.au board have made an announcement to the stock exchange in response saying that it will review the offer and give guidance to shareholders soon but concluding that the Webjet offer is fair and reasonable. It concludes by urging sharehodlers to take no action (ie don't sell to Webjet just yet).
UPDATE 2 - Webjet is back with an increased offer.
UPDATE 3 - Wotif returns with a higher offer of its own valuing the company at just shy of $55 million. Market cap at time of this post (4 Oct 250pm) was $63.75mm. The Wotif bid notes that it values the company at 57.1% premium on TVL’s closing share price on September 5 – the day before Webjet made its first approach. Webjet’s new bid, released this morning, offers a 50.8 per cent premium.
UPDATE 3 - worth remembering that at its IPO Travel.com.au raised $52mm and shares closed the first day at $2.94. There is little to link the company now to then in terms of shareholders or management but a nice little reminder of the craziness of the dotcom boom