June 13 -Travel website owner Priceline Group, wants to buy restaurant reservation website operator OpenTable FOR $2.6 billion in order to boost revenues. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Priceline is picking up the tab, a round $2.6 billion for OpenTable, its ticket to the world of restaurant bookings. At $103 per share, that's a 46 percent premium. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter. With limited options in the travel industry, the travel website owner Priceline Group is looking elsewhere to boost revenues. Coincidentally, restaurant reservation website operator OpenTable is on the hunt for dollars to battle competitors and a slowdown in the number of restaurants signing up for its services. Currently: 31,000 restaurants use the online reservation service, putting 15 million customers at a dinner table near you, per month. But there is a "but..." OpenTable's shares inched past the offer price on the Nasdaq on Friday, suggesting some investors expect a higher bid. Priceline's shares were down. If it comes to fruition, the deal will be yet another inter-industry merger. Travel review website TripAdvisor bought online restaurant booking platform LaFourchette in May to venture into the restaurant-booking world. And could pave the way for more deals as bigger players like Expedia and Orbitz look for smaller players like Yelp and GrubHub for complimentary growth.