Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Live from PhoCusWright Private Equity - Karl Peterson TPG

The PhoCuswright conference kicked off with discussion of private equity investment in the travel industry with Karl Peterson. Karl emphasized that PE is in for the long run. He disputed the theme of the recent Business Week article which used the term of "strip and flip" referring to the process where PE buys public company, extract profits and then splits up the company into pieces. Philip's questioned Karl's assertion that they are in it for the long haul, as no doubt many in the audience agreed, as a spin rather than a fact. The Business Week article went on to say that the recent credit crunch due to the collapse of the sub prime market has tightened available financing for PE. I believe we have not yet seen the true impact of PE on our industry. Blackstone now owns two GDS brands and three mainframe reservation systems (Apollo, Galileo, and now Worldspan). Sabre is owned by PE. Though all the GDS have offloaded a lot of their content to more inexpensive server based technology, the primary customer information is still tightly bound to the transaction residing on the mainframe. With PE owners now controlling Travelport and Sabre, the true impact of cutbacks and technology overhaul is still not known.

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Philip's questioned Karl's assertion that they are in it for the long haul, as no doubt many in the audience agreed, as a spin rather than a fact.

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