Boom time for workers as Skyscanner sold for £1.4bn

DOZENS of city workers are set to pocket a cash bonanza after travel website Skyscanner was snapped up by a Chinese company in a deal worth more than £1 billion.

Friday, 25th November 2016, 9:31 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 11:40 am
Gareth Williams CEO and founder of Skyscanner - the online flight search website is pictured at his office in Edinburgh's Princes street. Pic Ian Rutherford

The tech giant, whose offices can be found in Lauriston Place, is being taken over by Chinese firm for an eye-watering £1.4bn.

Now employees in the Capital firm could be in line to bank a small fortune if they held Skyscanner shares before the deal went through.

According to the company, “many” of its 450 Scotland-based workers currently hold shares, although details as to how much cash they could receive remain under wraps.

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Skyscanner was launched in Edinburgh in 2003 to let users compare prices from different travel sites when searching for flights, hotels and rental cars.

It is available in more than 30 languages and has around 60 million monthly active users.

Despite the mammoth deal, announced yesterday, a Skyscanner spokesman told the News the company would still be “very much” a UK business.

They said: “Skyscanner was born in Edinburgh and we remain completely committed to our offices here.

“We’re still headquartered here, over 500 of our 800 staff are based in the UK – and over 450 in Scotland – and we’ll continue to recruit at pace in the UK.

“We’re operationally independent – we’ve simply gained access to fantastic insights 
and technologies from a world leading OTA [online travel agency], which will make this proudly British company even stronger and even more successful.

“Our strategy doesn’t change and operationally very little will change. We will gain access to Ctrip’s knowledge and technology, which is very exciting. Our aim has always been to make travel search as easy as possible.

“This news won’t change that aim – if anything, it will accelerate the speed at which we reach it and allow us to expand our offering to the travelling consumer.”

As well as its staff in the Capital, Skyscanner also employs more than 800 people across the world, with other offices in Barcelona, Beijing, Budapest, Glasgow and London.

Skyscanner chief executive and co-founder Gareth Williams said the deal took his firm “one step closer to our goal of making travel search as simple as possible for travellers around the world”.

He said: “This is an important and exciting step in our journey of accelerated global growth.

“Skyscanner will remain operationally independent and continue to deliver the Skyscanner products that travellers know and love.”

Ctrip is expected to complete its full takeover by the end of the year.

Its executive chairman, James Jianzhang Liang, said the acquisition would “strengthen long-term growth drivers for both companies”.