SYDNEY, July 7 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
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
Expedia's Nasdaq-listed shares last closed up 2.4 percent at
($1 = 1.0702 Australian Dollars)
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)