China’s biggest online travel firm has announced it has bought UK-based online travel search business Skyscanner for £1.4 billion ($1.75 billion).
Skycanner, which is headquartered in Scotland, has around 60 million users every month across the globe, and is available in more than 30 languages.
The site was created as a tool for travellers so they could easily compare prices from across different websites, when trying to book flights, hotel stays or rental cars. The site is set to continue to run independently and will keep the same management team.
This deal is a blow for UK Chancellor Philip Hammond who, just a day before it was announced, pledged that he would be ploughing £400 million into helping digital start-ups in a bid to stop them from being purchased by larger rivals, and losing British control.
As part of his first fiscal statement since taking on the role from his predecessor George Osborne, Mr Hammond said: “I am taking a first step to tackle the long-standing problem of our fastest growing technology firms being snapped up by bigger companies, rather than growing to scale.”
However, Ctrip boss James Jianzhang Liang says the deal is good news for both companies and will lead to positive long-term growth despite troubled political and economic times. He said: “Skyscanner will complement our positioning at a global scale and Ctrip will leverage our experience, technology and booking capabilities to Skyscanner’s.”
Skyscanner was set up only 13 years ago and its own CEO Gareth Williams said joining forces with Ctrip would be beneficial to consumers as the firm pressed forward with its aim to make “travel search as simple as possible for travellers around the world”. The original idea for Skyscanner came following a chat Mr Williams had with a couple of university mates in a pub. As a keen skier, he had become annoyed at the length of time it took to search different websites for cheap flights.