Expedia says to pay $660 mln for Australia's Wotif

SYDNEY, July 7 Sun Jul 6, 2014 9:09pm EDT

SYDNEY, July 7 (Reuters) - U.S. travel giant Expedia Inc said on Monday it agreed to buy Australian online travel group Wotif.com Holdings Ltd for A$703 million ($660 million) in cash, sending Wotif's shares 25 percent higher.

Queensland-based Wotif said its directors, who own 20.2 percent of the company's shares, and co-founder Andrew Brice, who has 15.5 percent, plan to vote in favour of the deal.

The purchase gives Expedia an established base to grow in the Asia-Pacfic region while providing a lifeline to Wotif as it struggles with weak hotel bookings and declining profits.

Expedia's A$3.30 per share offer is a 14 percent premium to Wotif's most recent closing price of A$2.90 and higher than levels traded since Dec. 17, when the company issued a profit warning.

Expedia's Nasdaq-listed shares last closed up 2.4 percent at $82.21. ($1 = 1.0702 Australian Dollars) (Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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