Czech travel service start-up heading for sale

One of the biggest and most successful recent Czech starts up is reported to be heading for a sale with an impressive price tag of at least 10 billion crowns. Some say the offer for flight search company Kiwi.com could climb as high as 15 billion crowns.

Kiwi.comKiwi.com The idea for the company came in 2011 when one of the founders, Oliver Dlouhý, tried in vain to book a cheap flight. A year later the company was created and it has hardly looked back since. The concept is simple: you give the company your dates and destinations and it does the rest to make the cheapest bookings and adds on other services and guarantees. Based in Brno, it now has around 1,500 employees and branches in nine countries. Turnover this year is expected to approach 20 billion crowns.

But the rapid expansion, a growth in turnover of 1500 percent during 2015, has made it not just one of the fasting expanding companies in Central Europe but also worldwide. But the growth has also created its own specific problems with reported disagreements about direction and where the company should go from here among its diverse shareholders. And that has helped to pave the way for a sale.

Possible bidders have been sounded out with the Czech business daily, Hospodářské Noviny, saying that around 10 series contenders have emerged. One of those is said to be the US-based world leader in the sale of flights and accommodation, Priceline. It is probably best known for ownership of the hotel, pension, and rooms search and rental service, Booking.com.

The paper adds that a sale of the Czech service, handling around 2 million reservations a year, could be timely now with the worldwide reservations sector in rapid consolidation mode.