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NRI is expected to earn £85 million by selling travel website 'Ebookers'



NRI entrepreneur Dinesh Dhamija, one of the richest Asians in Britain, is expected to earn £85 million with the sale of his travel website 'Ebookers', to US hotel and car rental giant Cendant in a multi-million pound deal, a report said on Friday.

Dinesh Dhamija

Dhamija, who owns around 40 per cent of the company, has been working on a sale of Ebookers for months following several profit warnings and he will step down after the £209 million deal, taking around £85 million in the process, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Cendant, which is believed to have faced competition from private equity houses and from, is paying 320 pence a share in cash for Ebookers, as part of its aggressive attack on the online travel market.

It had bought US website Orbitz earlier this year. The company is behind the Avis and Budget car rental firms as well as hotel franchises including Ramada and Howard Johnson.

The shares of Ebookers were above 600p before the war in Iraq but plunged to 140p last July after a profit warning. They have since recovered on the back of speculation about a sale and were yesterday trading up 3 1/2 at 315 1/2p.

According to sources, Dhamija will leave once the formalities are over and the sale is completed which should be in early 2005.

A statement issued by Dhamija said he would "remain available" to Cendant as a consultant. In the past quarter, Ebookers made a loss of 1.0 million pounds on sales of £20 million.

Ebookers has websites that serve 13 European countries.


Dinesh Dhamija - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Dinesh Dhamija (53), Chief Executive Officer, Chairman and Founder of ebookers is one of Europe's leading Internet entrepreneurs, and a 20-year veteran of the travel industry.

Having gained a Master of Arts Degree in Law from Cambridge University, Dinesh's first employment was with IBM.

However Dinesh was keen to establish his own business and soon decided on the travel industry as his chosen sector. Over the next 20 years he gained the travel expertise, business management experience and supplier contacts which have been so critical in the ebookers success story.

Dinesh and his wife founded their first travel agency - Dabin Travel Limited - a non-IATA travel agency, in Earl's Court, London in 1980. By 1983 they had established Flightbookers, an IATA travel agency which soon expanded to three premises.

Dinesh's passion for travel developed further when in 1987 he was appointed as General Sales Agent for Royal Nepal Airlines for the UK & Ireland. For the next six years he worked consecutively as European GSA for Air Botswana, Zambia Airways, Air Tanzania and Royal Nepal Airlines.

In 1993 Dinesh was appointed as Regional Director for Europe for Royal Nepal Airlines where his responsibilities included running the sales, marketing and support functions. During this time he developed the sales function for a network of travel agencies in 12 European countries to support Royal Nepal's flights to London, Frankfurt and Paris.

ebookers begins

By 1996 Flightbookers had grown into one of the UK's top 10 travel agencies. But Dinesh had even bigger ambitions and saw his opportunity when a German associate introduced him to an innovative IT software package which enabled online bookings and transactions. The software was quickly installed and became the first interactive travel website in the UK - a real Internet pioneer.

By 1999 Dinesh realised that the Internet was where the future lay, and set about raising the funds to launch websites across Europe. In 1999 the Internet arm of Flightbookers was spun out into a separate company - ebookers. After an Initial Public Offering on Nasdaq and Neuer Markt raising $61m , ebookers rolled out across Europe and quickly established itself as the leading online travel agency in Europe.

Dinesh is married to Tani, and has two sons, Biren and Darun.





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