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American Express Global Business Travel 's acquisition of Hogg Robinson Group for 410 million British pounds closed Thursday. The deal was announced in February. An acquisition had looked a distinct possibility ever since Amex GBT formed in July 2014, and Hogg Robinson was the most likely target, as its revenue had fallen for several years while profit and share price growth had been limited.
The timing also seems good for HRG considering some recent client movement. Disney switched from HRG to Amex GBT, according to an industry source. And today, Disney emerged as the winner of a bidding war with Comcast to buy 21st Century Fox, one of HRG’s few remaining U.S. clients. According to BTN’s 2017 Corporate Travel 100, the only other CT 100 company for which a consolidated U.S. or global TMC was listed for 2016 was Wells Fargo.
After the deal was announced, GoldSpring Consulting partner Will Tate said smaller companies have plenty of TMC alternatives. However, for larger, multinational, mature programs, which largely are consolidated under one of the megas, one out of four of their options is gone. That means 20 percent to 25 percent of the competitive landscape in the market has gone away, he said.
There's potential that smaller corporate TMCs could merge to fill the hole left by HRG, which ranked fourth in sales volume for 2016 among TMCs with corporate components, behind Carlson Wagonlit Travel, according to Travel Weekly's 2017 Power List. For 2017, Travel Weekly estimated HRG dropped to fifth, behind Flight Centre Travel Group.
The quest for a comprehensive global footprint, as well as technology, drove the Amex GBT acquisition. Amex GBT named EVP of traveler care Joanna Macleod as chief transformation officer, and HRG COO Bill Brindle is now Amex GBT COO. The HRG brand name will remain for now.
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