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Amadeus is paying €62m for a majority stake in struggling online travel agent Opodo.

Amadeus is a major supplier to the travel industry offering ticket distribution and inventory systems. It gets a 55 per cent stake in Opodo which will continue to operate independently. Amadeus leaves in place a €49m loan made to Opodo last year.

The airlines will see their stakes shrink - Air France, BA and Luthansa all have 10.3 per cent while Alitalia, Iberia and KLM have 4.1 per cent. Aer Lingus, Austrian Airlines and Finnair also have small shareholdings.

Opodo, funded by the big airlines, has found it hard to make an impact in the UK. It does better in France and Germany where it also operates. It claims an 18 per cent market share across all three territories.

Jose Antonio Tazon, CEO of Amadeus, said: "While Amadeus will continue to focus and invest in the traditional and core distribution business, we are equally committed to extending new business lines that will expand our existing potential and support our aim to be the technology partner at the heart of the travel industry."

Amadeus believes the online travel market, especially for leisure, is set for rapid growth. It forecasts annual growth of 38 per cent in Europe between 2002 and 2008. ®

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