GDS – Private to Public and Back Again – eCommerce Pioneers continue their evolution

Amadeus IT Group SA (Amadeus) is one of the world’s leading IT solutions providers for the travel and tourism industry, offering transaction processing capabilities to travel service providers and travel agencies.

On Tuesday of this week Amadeus announced plans to launch their IPO April 29th on the Madrid Stock Exchange.  They will seek to raise 910 million euros ($1.23 billion) to pay off debt.

Amadeus competes head to head with Travelport and Sabre, both privately held [by Blackstone and TPG/Silverlake respectively]. 

In fact, this should be called an SPO (secondary public offering), since the company began in 1990 as a privately held venture, backed by SAS, Iberia, Air France and Lufthansa and then went public with its true IPO in October 1999.  That original IPO realized EUR 848 million.

The company is majority-owned by WAM Acquisition, whose shareholders are London-based private-equity firms BC Partners and Cinven and the carriers Air France, Iberia and Deutsche Lufthansa. Amadeus has over 9,000 employees.

While the total offer size is EUR1.36 bn, Amadeus intends to raise EUR910 mn from the primary offering. At the mid-point of the offer price range of EUR9.20 – EUR12.20 per share, the company will have to issue 86.75 mn new shares to raise the intended capital.

Along with the primary offering, the company’s existing shareholders are offering 36.96 mn shares. At the mid-point of EUR10.70, the selling shareholders will receive EUR395 mn. The common shares are to be listed on the Madrid stock exchange on 29 April 2010.

Amadeus was the last of the three GDS companies to go public in the late 1990s and the last of the three to become owned by private equity when they were acquired by BC and Cinven in early 2005.  But now, they are the first back to the IPO gate, due to the cancellation of Travelport’s offering in February. 

Amadeus has shown the strongest results over the last 10 years of all three companies, so being last to the public and then private markets the first time around hasn’t hurt their odds of success. 

Source:  Company Reports and Hoovers

And sorry Sabre and Travelport — while double digit growth is great this past decade, triple digit growth wins.

Good luck Amadeus on your IPO.  If history repeats itself, your compatriots won’t be far behind.

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