Thursday, December 07, 2006

Travelport Worldspan merger

After years of speculation, today's announcement of the merger between Travelport and Worldspan came as no great shock to anyone in the industry. The only surprising aspect of the deal is the lack of a competitive offer from Amadeus. As far as a fit, Amadeus and Worldspan would have been more complementary. Travelport has been suffering pre and post the Blackstone acquisition from an inability to easily integrate disparate entities and systems such as eBookers, Gulliver's and Galileo. The task of integrating Worldspan and Galileo is huge, and most likely will result in the Worldspan platform and brand fading from the marketplace. The biggest winner in this transaction is Rakesh Gangwal, whose golden parachute from the transaction is substantial. Considering his missteps at both USAir and Worldspan, his multi-million dollar payout seems unjust, but clearly reflects the benefit to Worldspan's stockholders not the industry at large. During his time at the helm at Worldspan, Gangwal saw the errors of his continued support of the "Worldspan inside" strategy with the loss of business from Expedia , Priceline and Orbitz. Worldspan's insistence to "stay the course" in regards to not launching their own online retail brand was a key factor in their demise. With executive compensation not reflecting actual performance, no wonder the traditional players in the industry are unable to anticipate the next wave of technology disruption.

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