Axa Private Equity and Permira have bought online travel agent Opodo for €450m from Spanish travel group Amadeus.

The buyout pair managed to see off strong competition from US rival Carlyle, which was keen to acquire the company to complement current portfolio company Orizonia, a Spanish tour operator.

Following the deal, Axa and Permira will merge Opodo with portfolio companies Go Voyages and eDreams. The newly combined entity will create one of Europe’s largest online booking services, rivalling US companies Expedia, Priceline.com and Orbitz Worldwide.

Both firms had vied for Go Voyages for around €350m last year, but Axa beat Permira in the auction. Shortly after, the two competed for eDreams, and this time Permira won with a bid of around €300m.

Opodo’s Ebitda is thought to have risen 46 per cent to €28.6m in the nine months to September, on gross sales of €1.19bn, up 13 per cent. The online travel service offers access to over 500 airlines, 65,000 hotel properties and more than 7,000 car rental locations worldwide.

Previous owners BC Partners and Cinven floated Amadeus at the end of April 2010 on the Madrid stock exchange. The IPO gave the private equity duo €1.32bn. Air France, Iberia and Lufthansa still own minority stakes in the company.

For an in-depth look at the online travel industry, read Real Deals Portfolio Update: Online Travel

Picture: Source