Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Priceline’s Meituan investment is a big deal

Priceline has long been one of the smartest players when it comes to mergers and acquisitions and it looks to have made another key move with its recent investment into Meituan-Dianping finds EyeforTravel’s new report into the company.

Priceline just strengthened its Chinese market position by investing into Meituan-Dianping, one of the fastest growing players in the Chinese digital space, showing its ambition in international expansion and giving it a new edge says the report into the online giant. In October 2017 Meituan-Dianping announced the investment as part of Series C funding into the start-up, which brings together group buying, booking and reviews.

It is a rapidly rising power in Chinese online travel thought to be behind only Ctrip and Qunar. Reportedly, Meituan-Dianping recorded more than 18 million room night bookings in July 2017 alone and claims to have meteoric growth rates that are quickly making it one of the world’s top start-ups by reported valuation. In the latest round of investment the company was able to raise USD4 billion, giving it an estimated value of around USD30 billion – a valuation that would put it among the biggest of the emerging tech companies and perhaps even bigger than Airbnb.

Although Priceline  has a comparatively small stake in the company, with its investment reportedly valued at USD450 million, it also announced that it was to create a distribution partnership between the company’s travel division and Priceline’s main Asian arm, Agoda. This is potentially more crucial than the investment itself and likely what Priceline was mainly looking to get at in the funding round.

“Now, Priceline has a fantastic presence in Asia-Pacific through Agoda, its partnership with Ctrip, and now this additional investment,” says Alex Hadwick, Head of Research at EyeforTravel. “It is therefore sitting on a well-fortified position within the market space and is also hoping to grow its Booking.com presence in the country with a local team. What’s more it has been able to achieve this without having to put in the huge sums other international tech giants have made into market. Famously Uber invested billions before conceding to local competition, so Priceline are able to minimise risk through their network of investments while growing market penetration.”

With a predicted Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of more than 8% between 2017 and 2020 and even a faster growing domestic market, the attraction is obvious for Priceline and getting involved with local players at this stage could be crucial as EyeforTravel’s research suggests that more than seven out of ten digital travel bookings in China are made with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).

To preview and buy EyeforTravel’s Expedia report, click here, or here for the Priceline report. These are part of the Future of the Online Giants series, which will cover Expedia, Priceline, TripAdvisor, Ctrip and Google. Keep a look out through EyeforTravel On Demand for the rest of these reports.