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Travelocity buys Lastminute.com for £577m

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Lastminute.com is to be snapped up by US travel giant Sabre for £577m, the one-time dotcom darling confirmed today.

News to the buy-out comes less than 24 hours after Lastminute.com announced it had "received an approach which may or may not result in an offer being made for the Company" - prompting shares to rocket more than 40 per cent.

Today's offer by Travelocity Europe, a Sabre subsidiary, equates to 165p a share. Before yesterday's leap Lastminute.com's share price had been bumbling along at around 105p.

The deal needs shareholder approval but execs at Lastminute.com are right behind the deal.

Said founder and chief exec Brent Hoberman: "Today's offer from Sabre is an endorsement of the achievements of everyone at lastminute.com. Over the past seven years, we have built a business from scratch into one of Europe's leading travel and leisure groups, with over seven million customers and total transactions worth £992 million for the financial year ended 30 September, 2004."

For Sabre, the pairing of Lastminute.com and Travelocity will boost its presence in Europe particularly in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and Spain.

By being able to extend its range of content - adding hotels, car hire and gifts to holidays and flights but as well - Travelocity reckons the tie-up "provides greater opportunity to profit from the fast-growing European online segment".

Publishing results for the first six months of the year today Lastminute.com described its performance as "solid". Turnover almost doubled to £222m compared to £111.5m during H1 2004, while pre-tax losses rose from £39.5m to £45.2m. ®

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