Skyscanner, the UK-based travel search business, has been bought by Ctrip, China’s biggest online travel firm.
The deal values Skyscanner at about £1.4bn ($1.75bn).
There are mixed feelings about this deal. On the one hand, British businesses have significant value and are attractive businesses to the world. But on the other hand, have British businesses such as Skyscanner sold out – as such a company was touted as the British ‘Google’ and the crown jewels? Earlier this year, Skyscanner successfully raised £120m from investors to fund expansion and acquisitions – and yet it finds itself being acquired. Just yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer proudly announced a £400m fund to help small companies grow into the giants of tomorrow, rather than selling up to the first foreign rival who writes a big enough cheque. If the Chancellor wants to see fewer companies snapped up by overseas companies, there needs to be a continued shift, which the Government is focused on, towards optimising the best conditions possible for entrepreneurs to build great businesses and go all the way, from late stage investment to an entrepreneurial culture.I have had many a chat with my clients about their growth plans and when is best to exit. The MD of Skyscanner, Gareth Williams, believes the investment will take his company to the next level, give him independence operationally and that there will be no redundancies amongst its 700 employees. The deal, largely in cash, will result in major paydays for the three founders, as well as a pay-out of almost £500m for Scottish Equity Partners, a huge return on the £9m it had put into the company as early as 2007.