CENDANT Corporation has bought Ebookers for £209 million.
After four months of negotiations, Cendant has agreed to pay
£3.20 per share for the publicly-listed online travel retail
company. Ebookers founder and chief executive Dinesh Dhamija will
leave the business after the sale’s completion, which is expected
in early 2005. Dinesh holds a majority 41% stake in ebookers and
stands to gain £87 million from the deal.

Priceline.com and Sabre are reported to have also been
interested in buying the online company. Ebookers will now join
Cendant’s Travel Distribution Services (TDS) division and report to
TDS’s international markets group, headed by Gordon Wilson.It will,
however, run as a separate entity and have its own chief
executive.

The acquisition is the latest step in Cendant’s strategy to grow
its European travel businesses – it bought wholesaler Travel
2/Travel 4 in 2003, and last month acquired US-online business
Orbitz.