< PrevNext > John Fentener van Vlissingen, BCD Group founder & owner Toll Collector By Jay Boehmer / December 12, 2018 / Contact Reporter Share The road American Express Global Business Travel navigated to acquire fellow mega travel management company HRG this year had to pass through a Dutch billionaire's toll booth. But not just any Dutch billionaire. On first pass, it seems surprising that van Vlissingen, as owner of BCD Group but also the single largest shareholder of Hogg Robinson, would let HRG fall into the arms of a BCD Travel competitor. But the time was right for van Vlissingen to cash out—and to do so at a premium above HRG's publicly traded share price.Van Vlissingen's Boron Management held around 24 percent of Hogg Robinson shares, and Amex GBT's acquisition of HRG occurred with his blessing. He has maintained that his initial position in Hogg was defensive, to ensure he had a seat at the table for any potential transaction involving HRG. He was compelled to take that seat because BCD Travel predecessor WorldTravel BTI had operated the Business Travel International joint venture with HRG. While that joint venture disbanded more than a decade ago, BCD and HRG continued to share mutual clients for a period. "In the early days of BCD Travel in the mid-2000s, some 30 percent of our international clients were joint accounts," van Vlissingen stated on the day the Amex GBT-HRG deal was announced in February. "At that time, we were still building up our company and extending our international presence. There are no longer any contractually shared accounts."BCD skipped the opportunity to buy HRG itself, as van Vlissingen found more cost-effective ways to grow BCD. Further, HRG never felt like the right fit, culturally or strategically, said BCD Travel CEO John Snyder.One implication of the Amex GBT-HRG deal, which closed at 410 million British pounds, is van Vlissingen's sizable cash-out, which, by extension, puts more cash in play for BCD. "I would guess probably 50 percent to 75 percent of that will end up in the BCD holding family," Snyder said at BTN Group's The Beat Live conference in October. "I'm now CEO of the holding company, as well, so it's not just BCD Travel. There are other companies in that. So we'll get access to use of some of those funds." He said potential areas of investment include BCD Travel's proprietary technologies, its meetings and events business, international markets where the TMC lacks an owned presence and the formation of a venture capital outfit to invest in startups. And so, the next time BCD Travel makes an acquisition or releases a new product, just think: Amex GBT may have helped pay for it.