Global online travel agencies show interest in acquiring Hanatour

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Hanatour headquarters in Seoul / Courtesy of Hanatour

Global online travel agencies are showing a growing interest in acquiring Hanatour, Korea’s largest travel agency, aiming to bolster their competitiveness in Korea’s outbound tourism market, industry sources said Tuesday.

Investment banking sources familiar with the matter told The Korea Times that global travel companies, as well as overseas private equity firms, have already shown their interest in acquiring the Hanatour stake, which has been put on the M&A market, as they hope to tap into the high growth of the Korean outbound market and expand into the highly profitable package tour business.

The sources said IMM Private Equity, the largest shareholder of the travel agency with a 16.68 percent stake, had already received numerous inquiries regarding the sale of Hanatour, even before designating a sales adviser. In response, IMM Private Equity appointed Citigroup Global Markets as the adviser for the Hanatour sale last month.

As the aggregated 27.78 percent stake in the travel agency — combining the 16.68 percent stake held by IMM Private Equity and the rest, which is owned by the travel company’s co-founders — is up for sale, the travel company is expected to undergo a major breakthrough in its governance structure, once the sale is completed.

Some potential buyers are said to be mulling over an option to launch a public tender offer in order to achieve the delisting of Hanatour from the KOSPI, following their acquisition of the controlling stake in the firm, as they view the current market capitalization of 935.1 billion won ($677 million) — as of Tuesday — to be an undervaluation of its worth.

“Despite Hanatour’s intrinsic corporate value, the stock price still remains low, making it an ideal target for acquiring additional shares through public tender offers to achieve a potential delisting,” an investment banking market insider told The Korea Times, Tuesday.

He added that Hanatour’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), which measures a 카지노 company’s overall financial performance, surpasses that of Yanolja, another major travel platform operator.

Thanks to a major digital transformation initiative led by IMM Private Equity since it acquired the controlling stake in Hanatour in 2019, the travel firm’s annual earnings have been on a steep increase with the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company’s quarterly revenue stood at 183.3 billion won in the first quarter this year, a whopping 121 percent increase compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period, the firm’s operating profit increased by 285 percent, reaching 21.6 billion won.

Riding the momentum of its first-quarter performance, Hanatour is forecast to post an operating profit of about 80 billion won with its EBITDA reaching 100 billion won this year, marking an all-time high in its profits.

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