Sabre Agrees To Buy GetThere



Sabre Holdings Group has agreed to buy online travel marketplace GetThere Inc. for $757 million in cash. The acquisition would expand Sabre's customer base to include companies such as Boeing, Cisco Systems, Lucent Technologies, Nike, and Xerox.

According to the agreement, GetThere will be combined with the Sabre Business Travel Solutions unit. The new company, which will operate under the GetThere name, will be led by Gadi Maier, GetThere's president and CEO. The acquisition was approved by GetThere's board and is expected to close in the fourth quarter, pending regulatory approval.

As an electronic travel marketplace, GetThere consolidates purchasing data, assesses quality control, and passes the information along to a corporate travel agency or internal accounting system. GetThere also hosts travel Web sites for several airlines, including British Airways, Northwest Airlines, TWA, and United Airlines.

Operating GetThere as a separate company is a smart move by Sabre, says Jupiter Communications analyst Melissa Shore. "For Sabre to be successful, it needs to have a choice of central reservation systems," she says. "Certain corporations have relationships or preferences for one particular system, and Sabre may not be their first choice."

In a separate announcement, Sabre outlined plans to cut 1,200 jobs over the next several months through layoffs and attrition. Sabre anticipates that the job cuts will save it $100 million. Sabre's cost-saving strategies are common for a company of its size, says Shore. "Larger corporations have grown top-heavy and have a lot of duplicate efforts going on internally."--

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