Expedia (EXPE) Strikes Deal to Acquire Australian Travel Company Wotif

Expedia (EXPE) has agreed to buy Australia’s Wotif.com Holdings Ltd. for roughly $658 million, as the online travel-booking giant looks to expand its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Bellevue, Wash.-based company said late Sunday that it offered 3.30 Australian dollars, ($3.09) per share in cash for Wotif including a special dividend of 24 Australian cents per security. The deal reflects a premium of 25% over Wotif’s most recent closing PPS, and a 30% premium to the volume weighted average price of its shares in the previous five trading days.

Wotif’s board has already approved the offer, and shareholders who hold a combined 35.7% stake in the company have expressed their support.

Wotif chairman Dick McIlwain said the sale was the best way to maximise shareholder value.

“As a board, we have carefully assessed the changing dynamics of the markets in which we operate, and the uncertainties and risks that we would face if we were to continue as an independent company,” he said in a statement on Monday.

“With that in mind, we believe that shareholder value will be maximised and that Wotif Group will be best positioned for the future, through the proposed transaction.”

Wotif, which generated $137.4 million on $1.09 billion in bookings for the year ended June 30, 2013, was founded in 2000 and went public in 2006. Shares of the Australian-based online travel company rallied 25% following the merger announcement, their biggest intraday gain since the group’s market debut eight years ago.

Expedia shares dropped more than 2% to $80.60 in recent trading.

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