Travelstart receives $40m investment boost

2016-02-03 10:32 - Gareth van Zyl, Fin24
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Johannesburg - UK-based technology investment company Amadeus Capital Partners has injected $40m (R648m) in Cape Town headquartered online travel agency Travelstart.

The investment is expected to help expand Travelstart’s presence in more African markets while also boosting its mobile offerings.

Travelstart was founded by Stephan Ekbergh in Sweden in 1999.

But Ekbergh, who is the current chief executive officer for Travelstart, then moved the business to Cape Town. Travelstart today has a presence in 16 countries ranging from Botswana, Kenya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

"Basically, what we want to try and do now is solidify our market leadership in South Africa and use this fund to break into other countries in Africa,” Ekbergh told Fin24 by phone.

“We do have footholds for some years back in Kenya, in Nigeria and also in Egypt. To some extent in Turkey and the Middle East as well,” he said.

The funding injection, meanwhile, represents Amadeus Capital Partners’ first foray into Africa after mobile network MTN became one of Amadeus’ “cornerstone” investors in 2013.

Travelstart is further expected to tap MTN’s reach in Africa and the mobile network’s e-commerce channels on the continent.

Investing in travel

Andrea Traversone, who is an investment partner at Amadeus Capital Partners, told Fin24 that the investment in Travelstart comes from Amadeus’ " digital prosperity fund...which basically invests in companies that address emerging markets and e-commerce”.

Amadeus’ previous investments in the online travel agency space have included high-profile internet businesses such as Europe’s, said Traversone.

The $40m investment in Travelstart then continues that trend for Amadeus, added Traversone.

“In terms of the size of the investment, it's just commensurate with the size of the market opportunity that Travelstart has and market leadership it has,” Traversone told Fin24.

“So, we feel that it totally justifies the investment,” Traversone added.

Amadeus was founded in 1997 and its website says it has raised over $1bn for investment and backed more than 100 companies in the software, mobile, internet, cyber security and medical technology sectors.  

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