From being founded in 2006, to be acquired and taken public in 2016, to being acquired once again, Yatra has had quite the journey.
Travel portal Yatra has been acquired for $337 million (Rs. 2,300 crore) by Atlanta-based software firm Ebix. Ebix already has a travel portfolio in India, which includes Via and Merucry Travels, which together focus “on the luxury, events and sports related traveler”. Yatra will likely become the company’s more mainstream arm, and will continue to be run under its own brand name following the acquisition.
“As part of a larger diversified organization with the necessary scale and resources to be a leader in today’s dynamic travel marketplace, we will provide more options and an enhanced experience for our joint customers and will be an even stronger partner to the airline, hotel, car rental and other businesses we work with,” said Dhruv Shringi, cofounder and CEO of Yatra. “We are confident that combining Yatra’s loyal customer base, comprehensive service offering and multi-channel platform with Ebix’s complementary Via and Mercury businesses, will create a leading online travel platform and India’s largest corporate travel platform that will capture growth opportunities and deliver enhanced value to shareholders,” he added.
This isn’t the first time that Yatra has been “acquired” — it had become a part of the Terrapin Group through a reverse merger in 2016, which had valued Yatra at $218 million. Following the merger, Yatra had become one of the few Indian firms to be traded on the NASDAQ. The acquisition had had some interesting side effects too — Salman Khan, who’d been the face of the brand was also an investor in the company, and had reportedly made a killing through the the acquisition.
Yatra had revenues of Rs. 280 crore in Q1FY19, but like most other travel portals, wasn’t making money — its losses were Rs. 31 crore in the period. To help offset losses, there has been some consolidation in the space in the past: MakeMyTrip had merged with Ibibo in 2016, creating the largest entity in the space. There have been new entrants since, with companies like Paytm, Flipkart and even Amazon all eyeing the travel business. With Ebix’s backing — the company has already invested $650 million in India prior to the deal — Yatra can hope to build up a sizable challenge of its own.