Consolidation of Online Travel Market in Central Europe

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The MCI.TechVentures investment fund, member of the Polish MCI Management SA financial group, has purchased a 50.10 % share in the INVIA.CZ internet travel agency, becoming its majority owner. The value of the transaction falls within the "over 10 million PLN (2.9 million EUR) category", the exact amount will not be published. INVIA has thus come to represent one of the largest investments in the portfolio of MCI.TechVentures.

After the completion of the transaction, INVIA will have another 4 shareholders, - 3 Czech natural persons, its original founders, and the Swiss investment fund Travel Holding AG, till now the majority owner. All partners have agreed upon the intention to enter the Warsaw Stock Exchange in 2009. No immediate changes are taking place in the company management, with Michal Drozd, still one of the owners, staying in the position of Managing Director.

"By completing this transaction, MCI has a possibility to consolidate the on-line tourism market in Central Europe," says Maciej Kowalczyk, MCI's Investment Manager responsible for the project. "Within 2-3 years, we would like to build up an important group, with a turnover in excess of 250 million EUR. Thanks to our portfolio, which includes the two largest players in the region - INVIA and TravelPlanet - we have embarked upon the right path leading to the attainment of this goal. Both companies will continue operating independently, and consolidation of capital in the future is not ruled out."

INVIA.CZ was founded in 2002, and for several years has been holding the top rung among on-line sellers of vacation packages in the Czech (http://www.INVIA.cz) and Slovak (http://www.INVIA.sk) Republics. Last year the turnover of all its services was worth a total of 1.27 billion CZK (50 million EUR). Currently the travel agency has a network of more than 40 client centres throughout the Czech Republic, since 2007 a representation in Poland (http://www.INVIA.pl) and since 2008 one in Hungary (http://www.INVIA.hu). Further expansion to Romania (http://www.INVIA.ro) is in the preparatory phase.

Commenting on the sale, Michal Drozd, founder and Managing Director of INVIA.CZ, points out: "We decided to prefer a financial investor to a strategic one, because such new owner will make it possible for us to continue pursuing our own business strategy when reinforcing our position in Europe. Our goal is to remain number one in the whole Central European region, with emphasis on countries with a high growth potential, among which Slovakia, Hungary and Romania can be said to rank." As regards the plan to enter the Warsaw Stock Exchange, he added: "We expect that placing our shares on the exchange market will raise their value, and mainly will help us gain financial resources for expansion and consolidation in a further number of countries in the region."

INVIA.CZ cooperates with 420 tour operators in Central Europe, and is the largest commission partner for many tour operators. Its most successful services include not only vacation packages but also air tickets, accommodation and car rentals. The offer of a wide range of tourist services in combination with a unique database of more than 12 000 hotel reviews is the reason why almost one in ten Czech internet users visits the INVIA.CZ web presentation, not only in the summer season.

The e-tourism market in the CEE region is very attractive and characterized by a high growth potential. While the population of the 5 countries where INVIA operates taken together is comparable to that of Germany, the overall value of their tourism market is 8-times lower. The disparity is even larger where e-tourism is concerned. The population of the 12 new EU member countries accounts for about 20 % of the EU total, but represents less than 4 % of the e-tourism industry. It is moreover worth mentioning that the off-line tourism market has been developing at an average pace of 2,5 % between 1998 and 2009, whereas at the same time, the on-line e-tourism turnovers have been steadily growing by 70 % annually.    

About INVIA.CZ:

INVIA.CZ (http://www.INVIA.cz) is the largest on-line travel agency in the Czech Republic. In 2007 its turnover exceeded 1 billion CZK (40 milion EUR), and 87 000 clients made use of its services. Since May 2005 it is active in Slovakia (http://www.INVIA.sk), since 2007 operates in Poland (http://www.INVIA.pl) and since 2008 in Hungary (http://www.INVIA.hu). The majority owner of INVIA.CZ is the Polish investment group MCI Management SA.

Press releases of the INVIA.CZ company are available at http://www.INVIA.cz

Contact:

Michal Tuma, Marketing Manager of INVIA.CZ
michal.tuma@invia.cz
tel.: +420226000051

About MCI Management SA:

MCI Management SA is a capital fund specializing in investments into hi-tech firms in Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republic. It has been listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange since February 2001.

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Michal Tuma
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