“I can imagine that they are not happy that a corona crisis has intervened. In the current circumstances, this agreement would not have been concluded and this amount would not have been paid. ”
Topman Steven van der Heijden of Corendon, number three on the Dutch travel market, is competitive. The fact that Sunweb – number two – pulled the plug days after monopoly agent ACM approved the takeover of his travel company, took him by surprise.
“It was clear that the buyer was reluctant to agree to agreements made before the corona period,” says Van der Heijden. “But they are waterproof and corona-proof. There is no reservation for economic crises or government intervention. We deliberately kept that out and the purchase price has also been calculated on this. There is something going on every year in the travel world. Either a volcano is erupting, or there is a coup d’etat somewhere, a refugee crisis. It cannot be that something like this happens and the buyer says: go away. ”
According to Sunweb, Corendon cannot meet all the conditions before a fixed date. This concerns control over the airline company Corendon Dutch Airlines. Sunweb and Triton do not want to run the risk that the ILT aviation inspection would require the new owner to apply for a new permit after an acquisition.
“They believe that a letter from ILT shows that the conditions of the contract are not being met exactly,” says Van der Heijden. “But the inspectorate says: no new business plan is needed, no new operating permit. The BV remains the same, only the owner changes. But it must meet the EU conditions to maintain the airline as a European company. ”
This means that shareholders must come for at least 50 percent from Europe. Sunweb is formally based in Switzerland, owner Triton is Swedish / German but also has major shareholders from outside the EU. “Those European rules should come as no surprise. They have had more than enough time to resolve that. If it is a problem at all, it is certainly not our fault. ”
Sunweb also hints in a statement that without Corendon it has greater chances of getting through the corona crisis. “Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the entire travel industry. Sunweb Group has been hit but has the advantage of offering sun and ski holidays with low fixed costs because it has no planes or hotels. ” Corendon does have its own fleet of aircraft and operates its own hotels.
On Monday, the two will be in court in summary proceedings initiated by Corendon. “We ask the judge to allow the takeover to go ahead, to take the shares and to transfer the money.”
Van der Heijden suspects that Triton wants to get rid of the deal for opportunistic reasons. Because of the corona crisis and the accompanying travel infarction, smaller travel companies can be bought up for an apple and an egg all over Europe. “For the same money they can buy a lot of travel companies elsewhere for a bargain.”
He doubts whether that is the best solution for Sunweb. “If we don’t merge, they’ll still keep us a big competitor in a tough market. Especially in these times you can work better together to get through the problems. ”
Even if the takeover is definitively canceled, Corendon, where more than 400 people work in the head office close to Amsterdam, can continue on its own two feet. “We were profitable before corona. The aim remains to sell to a larger party, but then a strategic takeover to form a larger European travel company. ”
Traveling is getting cheaper
Corendon, which generated more than half a million euros last year, opted for an acquisition at the time because it was becoming increasingly difficult to compete with travel giants such as TUI (turnover before corona: 20 billion), which are stealing hotel rooms and airplane seats worldwide. “That won’t be a major problem in the coming years,” expects Van der Heijden. “There will be no shortage of good hotels or airplane seats in the near future. We are lucky that the Boeing 737 Max will be able to fly again soon. Hundreds of extra planes are added, oil is cheaper, hotels are cheaper. It will be a party for people to go on vacation. ”
“When it comes to bookings, we are already at the end of the tunnel. We have long had doubts about a Black Friday promotion, but have continued it anyway. We are already totally surprised by the enthusiasm for holidays next summer. Better times are already dawning now that the arrival of corona vaccines is imminent. ”