(Bloomberg) -- Switzerland’s Dufry AG agreed to buy Autogrill SpA from the Italian billionaire Benetton family, as the world’s biggest duty-free group looks to forge a major new player in travel retail.

The Benettons, who control Autogrill, will transfer their 50.3% stake in Autogrill to Dufry, receiving 0.158 new Dufry share for each Autogrill share, according to a statement early Monday. Dufry will also bid for the remaining 49.9% of Autogrill, with investors opting for 0.158 Dufry share or 6.33 euros per Autogrill stock.  

Basel-based Dufry and the Benettons have been talking about a potential tie-up for months, following a series of informal approaches over the past few years. Bloomberg News first reported about the deal in April.

The travel retail group emerging from a deal between Dufry and the Benettons would have a market value of around $6 billion. 

The combination with Dufry is set to mark the second major deal in the last few months for Alessandro Benetton, who took the reins at family holding Edizione earlier this year. The Benettons in April agreed with Blackstone Inc. to take highway operator Atlantia SpA private, valuing the highway operator at 19 billion euros.

Read more: Dufry Set to Combine With Benettons’ Autogrill for Travel Retail

Despite a recent round of chaos at airports across Europe, the travel industry has been bouncing back strongly from a brutal two-year stretch, with air-passenger numbers now edging close to pre-pandemic levels. In this context, Dufry and Autogrill “could garner operational gains” in a combination, according to Bloomberg Intelligence:

Autogrill and Dufry historically have led in global concessions catering and travel retail, respectively, and overlap mainly in Europe and North America, so they could garner operational gains in a tie-up, including favorable rents, purchasing and logistics. The two have some product alignment, especially in the US, with Autogrill having acquired convenience retail brands in the past six years, while Dufry is expanding in food service.

Conroy Gaynor, BI Industry Analyst 

Still, some analysts see only limited opportunities from synergies in combining airport and highway businesses, and some have pointed to financing hurdles given Dufry’s “depressed” operating cash flow. 

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