Expedia Group Inc. named a new chief executive officer and finance chief and is raising about US$3.2 billion to shore up its finances after virus lockdowns decimated the travel industry.
Vice Chairman Peter Kern, who’s been running Expedia alongside Chairman Barry Diller since December, was named CEO, the company said Thursday in statement. Eric Hart, who’s been with the company for more than a decade and held roles in strategy, business development and global acquisitions, is now CFO.
The Seattle-based travel booking website withdrew its full-year forecast last month, citing the rapid spread of COVID-19 and accompanying travel bans. Still, the company was fighting off worsening trends before the pandemic and earlier this year decided to eliminate 3,000 jobs.
Expedia shares, which have fallen 41 per cent this year, rose 3.5 per cent to US$63.58 at 3:40 p.m. in New York trading, giving the company a market value of US$8.9 billion.
Kern and Hart have to find a way to compete with the likes of Airbnb Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc. for fickle travelers. In December, Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom and CFO Alan Pickerill were ousted after clashing with the board over a disappointing growth outlook. Diller, the billionaire media mogul and chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, has been involved in the company’s day-to-day operations ever since.
Apollo, Silver Lake
Expedia said in a separate statement that it’s planning a US$1.2 billion private stock placement and US$2 billion in new debt financing. Apollo Global Management Inc. and Silver Lake are providing the equity investment. David Sambur, co-lead partner of Apollo’s private equity business, and Greg Mondre, co-CEO of Silver Lake, will join Expedia’s board after the fundraising closes on May 5.
A filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed that Expedia sold preferred shares to Apollo and Silver Lake that pay a 9.5 per cent dividend as well as give them rights to buy common stock. Apollo and Silver Lake will each get warrants -- good for 10 years -- to buy 4.2 million shares each for US$72 a share, according to the filing.
Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mandeep Singh said that the involvement of private equity firms will help with cost cutting and improve margins.
“Still, its growth prospects remain challenged in the near to medium term as hopes for a global travel recovery this year fade,” Singh said in a research note.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Moelis & Co. advised Expedia on the deal, while Evercore Inc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc advised Apollo.