ItzCash parent Ebix acquires Sequoia-backed hybrid OTA

By Anirban Ghoshal

  • 31 Oct 2017
Credit: Thinkstock

Marking its fifth acquisition in India in as many months, US-based software firm Ebix Inc, the parent of ItzCash Card Ltd, has acquired Bangalore-based online-offline travel agency, a press statement said.

Via's enterprise value for the transaction was $74.9 million, and the acquisition is expected to close over the next few days, the statement added., operated by Flightraja Travels Pvt. Ltd, was founded in 2007 by Vinay Gupta and Amit Aggarwal.

A travel deals aggregator and ticket-booking site, it also sells holiday packages. The firm had raised $5 million from IndoUS Venture Partners (now Kalaari Capital) in 2007. That was followed by a $10 million round from Sequoia Capital in December 2009.

"The addition of Via’s integrated platform into our rapidly growing EbixCash (rebranded ItzCash payments entity) financial exchange places us in a very strong position... This allows us tremendous cross-selling opportunities,” Ebix chairman and CEO Robin Raina said. “For us taking a strong position in travel was important, since insurance, remittances, phone recharges, prepaid gift cards etc. are the things that complement a consumer’s needs when they engage in travel," he added.

The acquisition of Via expands Ebix’s distribution network to over 224,000 outlets in Southeast Asia, besides offering significant cross-selling opportunities for Ebix’s financial exchange portfolio. Via's distribution network encompasses over 85,000 agents in India, 14,700 agents in Indonesia, 9,900 agents in the Philippines, 600 agents in Singapore and 350 agents in the UAE and Oman.

Ebix also announced that it expects Via to generate around $33 million in GAAP revenues in 2018, with approximately 30% operating margins.

Just last month, Ebix agreed to acquire BSE-listed Paul Merchants Ltd’s international remittance business for Rs 262.77 crore ($40.7 million).

In August, it had agreed to acquire the money transfer service scheme business of YouFirst Money Express Pvt. Ltd. That came on the heels of it acquiring BSE-listed Wall Street Finance Ltd’s subsidiary Goldman Securities Ltd, and its MTSS business, for $7.4 million.

Last year, in the biggest-ever consolidation move in India's online travel agency (OTA) space, NASDAQ-listed MakeMyTrip Ltd bought ibibo Group, which was co-owned by South African technology group Naspers Ltd and Chinese investment firm Tencent, in an all-stock deal.

Towards the end of last year, MakeMyTrip's competitor Yatra Online Inc. got listed on the NASDAQ.

In July 2016, Yatra had entered into a reverse merger agreement with US-based special purpose acquisition company Terrapin 3 Acquisition Corp, which is listed on NASDAQ, paving the way for a backdoor listing of the second Indian OTA in the US.

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