Travelport helps people with their journeys, whether it be by land, air, or sea. Through its primary Global Distribution Systems (GDS) division, the firm operates electronic reservation platforms Worldspan and Galileo and travel agency service provider THOR. GDS connects travel agencies, websites, and corporations with travel suppliers worldwide. Air carriers are served by Travelport Airline IT Solutions, which offers high-tech business tools and services. The Blackstone Group owns a controlling stake in the company. Travelport exited its Gullivers Travel Associates (GTA) unit that focused on lodging and ground travel services via the GTA, OctopusTravel.com, TravelCube, and TravelBound brands.
When Travelport sold off GTA to Kuoni Holding AG for about $705 million in early 2011, the company shifted its focus to its core GDS business. The move also necessitated a move in its executive suite. To this end, Gordon Wilson took over as president and CEO effective June 2011, when Jeff Clarke stepped down but remained on the board as executive chairman.
Former parent Cendant (now Avis Budget Group) assembled its travel services businesses under the Travelport banner, then sold the company to Blackstone for $4.3 billion in 2006. The financial clout that Blackstone carries has helped Travelport to expand its operations and made it easier for the company to act on investment opportunities. Travelport operates sales, service, and support offices in more than 40 countries, and the scope of its business extends to some 160 countries, whereby its customers can access an array of airlines, hotel chains, car rental companies, cruise lines, rail networks, and tour operators. The company also owns a nearly 50% stake in Orbitz Worldwide. At the same time, however, Blackstone has been moving to cut costs in the company's operations; about 10% of Travelport's workforce has been laid off since Blackstone bought the company.
To pay down its more than $4 billion in debt, Travelport was considering floating about $1.7 billion in shares on the London Stock Exchange but pulled back from the IPO in 2010 because of weak investor interest and volatile markets. The offering would have been the biggest market launch in the UK since 2008. Travelport is no stranger to using IPOs for debt repayment -- the company raised cash for just that purpose in 2007 with an IPO of a minority stake in Orbitz.
Travelport is looking to the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Asia/Pacific regions for growth, opening new offices and beefing up distributor relationships and agreements in those areas. In a move that expanded hotel options for its Travelport-connected agents, suppliers, and their mutual customers, in 2010 the company acquired Sprice Pte. Located in Singapore, Sprice owns and operates hotel and travel search engine sprice.com. The Sprice database has some 240,000 international hotel properties, hotel reviews, merchandising options, and comparison tools. It is a natural fit for Travelport's GDS business.