When it is actually announced, the sale of Hotelbeds by TUI will be anticlimactic. In prepping for the sale of its Palma de Mallorca-based operation (its Americas operation is headquartered in Cancun), Europe’s largest travel company has relentlessly promoted just how strong and profitable the operation is. Not only that, TUI has pointedly been promoting just how healthy the state of its overall operation is—following the merger of the travel company with its parent company, TUI AG, and the acquisition of the European units of by its competitor, DER Touristik.Translation: Do not expect any interested party to pick up the Hotelbeds property at a discount.
The latest—and, indeed, impressive—announcement from TUI touted the performance of Hotelbeds in Fiscal Year 2015, which ended Sept. 30. Hotelbeds closed the year with a gross turnover of 4.279 billion euros ($4.7 billion) an increase of 700 million euros ($769 million), or a 20 percent increase over 2014, and profit before taxes and amortization (EBITA) of 117 million ($128 million), 15 percent higher.
At the same time the positive financial statement for Hotelbeds was released, TUI also announced that it its overall business had registered 2015 profits of more than $1 billion, an increase of more than 20 percent over 2014. There was no indication in the financial reports that there was any increase in Visit USA business—most of the strong numbers came from European markets. Perhaps just as important for the TUI Group as the financial numbers themselves is the impact that they will have on a sale price for the unit. Deutsche Bank and Bank of America are responsible for the financial review and sale of Hotelbeds. According to published accounts, the review is likely to be completed in the next few weeks.
It the meantime, just as TUI is spinning off Hotelbeds, it has ventured into a new activity—online vacation home rentals. It has launched a new European portal—TUIvillas.com—offering holiday homes around the world. The new website has an inventory of about 270,000 holiday homes, apartments, villas and other kinds of accommodation in 70 countries. Of these, some 30,000 homes that meet its quality criteria are currently listed as “TUI villas.” The portal is operated by Atraveo, a TUI subsidiary that specializes in online bookings of holiday accommodation, and cooperates closely with TUI Ferienhaus and TUI Wolters, the group’s German holiday homes brands.