American Express Bids Bon Voyage to Corporate Travel Unit

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Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

In a press release dated March 17, American Express (NYSE:AXP) announced it was shedding one of its major assets: its business travel unit, which caters to corporate customers with travel consulting, services and research assistance. The unit has partners in 139 countries, 14,000 employees, and its customers spend $19 billion annually on travel. The company well sell 50 percent of its Global Business Travel division to an investor group — led by Qatar Investment Authority and Certares — for $900 million. BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) and Macquarie Capital (MQBKY.PK) will also contribute funds to the deal.

Meanwhile, American Express will retain ownership of 50 percent of the business. The company’s consumer travel business, which provides the company’s cardholders, is not part of the transaction.

“The joint venture reflects our continued commitment to the travel business through a new structure with an outstanding group of investors and the resources to grow the business and provide additional value to our corporate customers,” American Express Chair and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth I Chenault said in a statement. “Bill Glenn is an accomplished leader with experience running major business units during his distinguished career at American Express,” Chenault added, referring to the former president of American Express’s Global Commercial Services who will be president and chief executive of the new venture. Glenn “has built strong customer relationships throughout the corporate sector and his experience makes him a terrific choice to lead the transformation of a business that will be focused on capitalizing on new growth opportunities.”

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