Priceline to snag OpenTable for $2.6B in all-cash deal

The travel giant will pay $103 per share for the restaurant-reservation site -- a massive premium over its closing price of $70.43 on Thursday.

opentableipadapp2.png
OpenTable's iPad app displays its partner restaurants. OpenTable
The parent company of travel-booking behemoth Priceline has signed a deal to acquire restaurant-reservation site OpenTable.

Priceline Group will pay $2.6 billion, or $103 per OpenTable share, the companies announced Friday. The deal will be all cash and represents a 46 percent premium over OpenTable's closing price on Thursday.

OpenTable has quietly become a Wall Street juggernaut. The company's shares are up over 154 percent since 2009 to $70.43 and have recently been climbing back toward its 52-week high of $87.48.

OpenTable works with restaurants to provide online booking. The company has inked deals with 31,000 restaurants and seats 15 million diners each month, according to Priceline. Through its mobile products alone, OpenTable has seated 125 million diners since that product's launch in 2008.

For Priceline, which also owns travel-booking and travel-review sites Booking.com, Kayak, and Agoda, the deal to acquire OpenTable is a no-brainer. Priceline is a massive company and a Wall Street favorite, with shares closing Thursday at $1,226. Priceline, which has a valuation of more than $64 billion, has a boatload of cash it can use to acquire smaller travel-related sites.

Perhaps more importantly for Priceline -- a fierce competitor with the likes of Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz -- the OpenTable acquisition builds out its slate of services, which focus primarily on booking flights, hotel rooms, and car rentals.

In Friday's statement, Priceline said it plans to accelerate OpenTable's "global expansion." It also offered the fuzzy plan to "increase the value offered to [OpenTable's] restaurant partners."

A major challenge for Priceline may be to get a quick return on its investment in OpenTable. Last year, the restaurant-booking site generated $190 million in revenue and $33.4 million in profit. Even with international expansion, OpenTable won't be contribute a huge amount to Priceline's bottom line in the near future. At the end of 2013, Priceline posted revenue of $6.8 billion and a profit of $1.9 billion.

Not surprisingly, OpenTable is flying high in pre-market trading. The company's shares are currently up 13 percent, or $9.24, to $79.67. Priceline's pre-market trading is also up. The company's shares have risen 0.66 percent, or $8, to $1,234.

Priceline expects to complete the acquisition in the third quarter.

CNET has contacted Priceline for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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