Etihad Airways announced (18-Dec-2012) the purchase of a majority stake in a new entity incorporated to own airberlin’s topbonus frequent flyer programme, the first step in the establishment of a global loyalty management platform. The new entity will seek to offer new opportunities for topbonus members to collect and redeem topbonus miles around the world, including the ability to use PointsPay to convert miles into cash payments at more than 30 million outlets worldwide. Etihad Airways has taken a 70% holding in the new company, with airberlin taking the remaining 30%. The total transaction value is EUR200 million, which is being financed by an equity injection of EUR50 million and debt financing of EUR150 million, provided by HSBC International and Commerzbank. EUR184 million will flow to airberlin as part of this transaction and will be included in the 2012 annual result for airberlin. It is planned Etihad Guest, which expanded to become a multi-airline programme in Jun-2012 when Seychelles Plus, the Air Seychelles frequent flyer programme, started participating in the programme, will cooperate with the new company. Together, topbonus (3.1 million members) and Etihad Guest (1.82 million members) have nearly five million members worldwide. Etihad Guest currently has 173 partners and topbonus has 123. topbonus is growing at a rate of more than 1000 new members a day. The deal was preceded by a comprehensive review process undertaken by Credit Suisse and KPMG on behalf of airberlin in Germany, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (London) instructed by Etihad Airways in the UAE. [more - original PR - Etihad Airways] [more - original PR - airberlin]
airberlin: “This deal helps us to financially restructure our business. The proceeds from the transaction will be included in the 2012 annual result for airberlin and demonstrate the value that we have already created with topbonus and which previously could not be seen or quantified. Consequently, our annual result will improve significantly, as well as our liquidity and equity capital resources. With this new configuration, we expect further accelerated growth in topbonus from which we also stand to profit through our 30% stake in topbonus Limited.... By spinning off our frequent flyer program, we lay the cornerstone for tapping the full potential of this business area and taking topbonus to a new level. These opportunities will be realised together with our strategic partner, Etihad Airways, for the benefit of both organisations," Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO. Source: Company statement, 18-Dec-2012.