Skyscanner poised for acquisition in Spain

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SKYSCANNER, the flight ­comparison website, is understood to be in talks about an acquisition in Spain.

Scotland on Sunday has learned that the Edinburgh-based company is close to completing a deal with a business in Barcelona.

Gareth Williams, chief executive, made clear earlier this year that the company would monitor the market for any opportunities.

There were no further details of the target company, though it is understood talks are at an advanced stage.

Skyscanner, launched in 2003, is based in the commercial part of the Quartermile development on the site of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and has been growing rapidly.

In January, 2011, the company acquired Oxford-based Zoombu, a point-to-point travel business that specialised in linking up airline, bus and train timetables.

Founders Rachel Armitage and Alistair Hann, who set up the business in 2008, moved into key roles at Skyscanner.

At the time, Armitage said that Zoombu’s strengths were in “product and technology” and Skyscanner’s “vast user base” was a natural fit.

Williams has declared his ­intention to go for massive growth and there has been talk of a flotation on the stock market at some point, although nothing is planned at present.

Latest accounts show the firm’s pre-tax profits increased to £11.02 million, from £4.1m in the previous 12 months, as turnover soared to £33.5m from £21.4m. The firm employs 250 staff and has announced plans to double the workforce over the next year as it increases its overseas business.

In February, the company unveiled plans to enter the United States flight search market by opening an office at Miami, Florida.

The new office is the third global hub for the company, following sites in Beijing and Singapore. Having captured a large slice of the Asia-Pacific market, Skyscanner is now targeting customers in South America.

The expansion will also put it head-to-head with US industry leader Kayak Software, the Connecticut-based firm that was acquired last year by American online travel search giant for $1.8 billion (£1.1bn).

Skyscanner’s website is managed in 30 languages across 40 countries and its mobile apps have been downloaded more than 20 million times.