is expected to earn £85 million by selling
travel website 'Ebookers'
LONDON, DECEMBER 03, 2004
NRI entrepreneur Dinesh Dhamija,
one of the richest Asians in Britain, is expected
to earn £85 million with the sale of his
travel website 'Ebookers', to US hotel and car
rental giant Cendant in a multi-million pound
deal, a report said on Friday.
Dhamija, who owns around 40 per cent of the
company, has been working on a sale of Ebookers
for months following several profit warnings
and he will step down after the £209 million
deal, taking around £85 million in the
process, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Cendant, which is believed to have faced competition
from private equity houses and from Priceline.com.,
is paying 320 pence a share in cash for Ebookers,
as part of its aggressive attack on the online
It had bought US website Orbitz earlier this
year. The company is behind the Avis and Budget
car rental firms as well as hotel franchises
including Ramada and Howard Johnson.
The shares of Ebookers were above 600p before
the war in Iraq but plunged to 140p last July
after a profit warning. They have since recovered
on the back of speculation about a sale and
were yesterday trading up 3 1/2 at 315 1/2p.
According to sources, Dhamija will leave once
the formalities are over and the sale is completed
which should be in early 2005.
A statement issued by Dhamija said he would
"remain available" to Cendant as a
consultant. In the past quarter, Ebookers made
a loss of 1.0 million pounds on sales of £20
Ebookers has websites that serve 13 European
Dinesh Dhamija - Chairman and Chief Executive
Dinesh Dhamija (53), Chief Executive Officer,
Chairman and Founder of ebookers is one of Europe's
leading Internet entrepreneurs, and a 20-year
veteran of the travel industry.
Having gained a Master of Arts Degree in Law
from Cambridge University, Dinesh's first employment
was with IBM.
However Dinesh was keen to establish his own
business and soon decided on the travel industry
as his chosen sector. Over the next 20 years
he gained the travel expertise, business management
experience and supplier contacts which have
been so critical in the ebookers success story.
Dinesh and his wife founded their first travel
agency - Dabin Travel Limited - a non-IATA travel
agency, in Earl's Court, London in 1980. By
1983 they had established Flightbookers, an
IATA travel agency which soon expanded to three
Dinesh's passion for travel developed further
when in 1987 he was appointed as General Sales
Agent for Royal Nepal Airlines for the UK &
Ireland. For the next six years he worked consecutively
as European GSA for Air Botswana, Zambia Airways,
Air Tanzania and Royal Nepal Airlines.
In 1993 Dinesh was appointed as Regional Director
for Europe for Royal Nepal Airlines where his
responsibilities included running the sales,
marketing and support functions. During this
time he developed the sales function for a network
of travel agencies in 12 European countries
to support Royal Nepal's flights to London,
Frankfurt and Paris.
By 1996 Flightbookers had grown into one of
the UK's top 10 travel agencies. But Dinesh
had even bigger ambitions and saw his opportunity
when a German associate introduced him to an
innovative IT software package which enabled
online bookings and transactions. The software
was quickly installed and Flightbookers.com
became the first interactive travel website
in the UK - a real Internet pioneer.
By 1999 Dinesh realised that the Internet was
where the future lay, and set about raising
the funds to launch websites across Europe.
In 1999 the Internet arm of Flightbookers was
spun out into a separate company - ebookers.
After an Initial Public Offering on Nasdaq and
Neuer Markt raising $61m , ebookers rolled out
across Europe and quickly established itself
as the leading online travel agency in Europe.
Dinesh is married to Tani, and has two sons,
Biren and Darun.
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