Express Travel Group to join Helloworld stable

Pending regulatory approval, Helloworld will acquire ETG for $70 million

Helloworld Travel Limited has confirmed its intention to acquire Express Travel Group in Australia and New Zealand for $70 million, pending regulatory approvals from owners Tom Manwaring and Sintack Pty Ltd.

Founded as Orient Express Travel Group in 1983, Manwaring joined the business in 2000 after nearly 30 years in aviation with Cathay Pacific. Manwaring took over full ownership of the company in 2003, with the business rebranding as Orient Express Group in 2014.

ETG currently operates an air ticket consolidation business, retail travel networks and cruise and package wholesaling, with a national support network and offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland. The firm has a workforce of over 100 staff across its suite of brands including Express Tickets, Independent Travel Group, Select Travel Group, Alatus, italktravel & cruise, Creative Cruising AU/NZ and First Travel Group, YOU Travel and Lifestyle Holidays in New Zealand.

The acquisition will comprise a mixture of shares and cash. Due to the related party nature of the proposed transaction (Sintack Pty Ltd, which owns a 50% stake of ETG and a 13.1% shareholding in Helloworld), the acquisition will require approval by shareholders and notice of an Extraordinary General Meeting. The EGM will be held on 21 July.

Helloworld anticipates acquiring 100% of the business from the vendors and Tom Manwaring will stay on as CEO and Director of ETG. Subject to shareholder approval, the transaction is expected to settle early August 2023.

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Express Travel Group said the takeover is “an exciting evolution” for the company, noting the deal will “increase scale, capacity and member benefits”.

“This is an exciting phase in the evolution of Express Travel Group that will help us increase scale and capacity and deliver greater opportunity for our members,” CEO and Director, Tom Manwaring said.

Tom Manwaring, CEO and Director, Express Travel Group

“I look forward to continuing on as CEO and Director of Express Travel Group in this next stage of growth and seeing our members benefit and optimise success.

“Our leadership team will remain in place and it is business as usual at an operational level. Our members will continue to be serviced by ETG with improved commercial and continued high service levels, by all existing staff,” Manwaring stated.

Andrew Burnes AO, CEO and Managing Director, Helloworld Travel said “We are delighted to announce our forthcoming acquisition of ETG. They have been one of the most successful trade operations in Australia and New Zealand in the ticketing, retail network and distribution sectors and we look forward to the continued growth of the business under Tom’s leadership and vision.”

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