TBO Tek Has IPO Money Now, Acquisitions Could Come Next

TBO co-founders and joint managing directors, Gaurav Bhatnagar (middle) and Ankush Nijhawan (left) with Skift CEO Rafat Ali at the Skift India Summit.

TBO co-founders and joint managing directors, Gaurav Bhatnagar (middle) and Ankush Nijhawan (left) with Skift CEO Rafat Ali at the Skift India Summit.

Travel distribution platform TBO Tek made its debut in the Indian stock exchanges Wednesday, and raised a little more than INR 15.5 billion ($180 million) from its IPO subscription last week.

One use of the funds may be acquisitions, the company’s leaders told Skift.

“It’s important, to always maintain a pipeline. However, acquisitions can be a huge hit and miss, so it’s very hard to say. But we are actively evaluating,” said Gaurav Bhatnagar, co-founder and joint managing director of TBO.

TBO plans to allocate INR 400 million ($4.8 million) of its net proceeds in the IPO towards strategic acquisitions and/or investments.

In February 2023, TBO acquired B2B accommodation wholesaler BookaBed, further expanding its presence in Ireland and the UK. Then in December, it acquired Jumbonline, a distribution platform based in Spain serving wholesalers and tour operators.

Ankush Nijhawan, the co-founder and joint managing director of TBO, highlighted the positive investor sentiment during the roadshows held in India and Asia. “We are an asset light company and our global playbook is only growing,” Nijhawan said.

TBO’s Playbook

TBO Tek (formerly known as Tek Travels) was established in 2006 with the aim of simplifying airline ticket bookings for travel agents. Now it’s a global B2B travel platform: It does not sell directly to travelers – it’s a hub where travel agents can book flights, hotels, car rentals, transfers, cruises, insurance, cargo, marine, rail, and sightseeing.

The TBO top bosses said that they would be looking at acquisitions in two ways. The company plans to expand geographically, deepen its presence in existing regions, like what they’ve done in Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The company also wants to boost its existing buyer base in India, the Middle East and Latin America.

Second, the company looks to potentially diversify its services and look to add a new line of business to the platform or add ancillary services.

Looking ahead, TBO intends to establish local sales and marketing teams globally, bolstering its supplier base and improving accessibility for clients.

The company also looks to invest in technology to help reduce friction for its clients, and looks to add more payment options. The TBO platform supports payments in over 55 currencies.

TBO’s Listing

On Wednesday, the shares listed at 55% premium for its market debut and closed at INR 1404 ($17), almost 53% over the issue price of INR 920 ($11).

“We are happy that our listing was received by the market so positively. We will be working hard to live up to the expectations of our new public shareholders,” said Bhatnagar.

The travel tech company’s IPO garnered significant attention last week, with an overall subscription rate exceeding 86 times. Retail investors showed keen interest with a subscription rate of over 25 times, while qualified institutional buyers subscribed 125.5 times, and non-institutional investors subscribed 50.6 times.

Despite launching the IPO during an election period in India, Bhatnagar said the timing wasn’t a strategic consideration. “We have strong belief in the business model that we had built  and the fundamentals of the company are extremely strong. So, we hit the market as soon as we got the SEBI approval,” he said.

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