Expedia says to pay $820m for Australia's Wotif

SYDNEY (Reuters) - US travel giant Expedia said on Monday it agreed to buy Australian online travel group Wotif.com Holdings for A$703 million (S$820 million) in cash, sending Wotif's shares 25 per cent higher.

Queensland-based Wotif said its directors, who own 20.2 per cent of the company's shares, and co-founder Andrew Brice, who has 15.5 per cent, plan to vote in favour of the deal.

The purchase gives Expedia an established base to grow in the Asia-Pacfic region while providing a lifeline to Wotif as it struggles with weak hotel bookings and declining profits.

Expedia's A$3.30 per share offer is a 14 per cent premium to Wotif's most recent closing price of A$2.90 and higher than levels traded since Dec 17, when the company issued a profit warning.

Expedia's Nasdaq-listed shares last closed up 2.4 per cent at US$82.21.

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