Travelstart secures strategic partnership with MTN, Africa’s largest mobile operator
London, UK – Feb 3 2016 – Amadeus, the global technology investor, today announced a $40M investment in Travelstart in partnership with MTN – Africa’s leading mobile and digital life services operator. Travelstart is the leading online travel agency in Africa and has built a market leadership position in South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and parts of the Middle East. This growth investment will enable Travelstart to open new markets and to extend its market dominance throughout Africa as it responds to strong demand from a rapidly expanding middle class with internet access.
Travelstart was originally founded in Sweden in 1999 by its founder and CEO Stephan Ekbergh. Operating in Africa from its Cape Town headquarters since 2006, Mr Ekbergh has built Travelstart into the market leader in South Africa with over 75% market share and entered other emerging markets across the Middle East and Africa, achieving revenues above $200m in 2015 and market leadership positions in Nigeria, Egypt, and Kenya. The investment by Amadeus and MTN will support the expansion of Travelstart into key markets and the growth of its team and product offering, at the same time as the company develops a strategic partnership with MTN, who will support their expansion via its unrivalled mobile network in Africa.
Andrea Traversone, Partner, Amadeus, who led this Digital Prosperity Fund investment, said: “Our investment in Travelstart is among the largest venture investments in South Africa in the last five years. Africa has one of the fastest growing middle classes in the world that are fast adopting e-commerce and mobile internet access. These macro trends support Travelstart’s growth and bode well for their strategic relationship with MTN. With this transaction, Amadeus has demonstrated its commitment to strong investment opportunities such as Travelstart that respond to these trends in emerging markets.”
Stephan Ekbergh, Founder and CEO, Travelstart, commented: “Amadeus Capital’s investment comes at an inflexion point for Travelstart, as we capitalise on a boom in online travel bookings across Africa and Middle East. Air travel in Africa is expected to grow significantly faster than in most regions globally, with a host of low cost carriers targeting the region. Alongside the strategic partnership with Africa’s best connected mobile operator MTN, Amadeus’ investment and guidance will prove invaluable in continuing to build our market leading position.”
Herman Singh, Group Chief Digital Officer, MTN, added: “MTN’s vision is one of delivering a Bold New Digital World and this investment in partnership with Amadeus is a key step on a multi-year journey to achieve that promise. It strongly complements our existing investments in online and e-commerce in retail, marketplaces, classifieds and travel. This investment in the largest multi-national player in a very large and rapidly growing market positions MTN as an enabler of exciting new leading edge businesses. The MTN footprint, subscriber base, payment capability, network and brand awareness strongly underpin the synergies already being manifested in our other investments. We look forward to working with Amadeus and the TravelStart team to accelerate the business development of this adjacency.”
Amadeus Capital Partners is a global technology investor. Since its inception in 1997, the firm has raised over $1bn for investment and backed more than 100 companies in the software, mobile, internet, cyber security and medical technology sectors. The investment team is based in India, South Africa, Sweden, UK and USA, has deep experience in technology and invests in high-growth companies from early stage to pre-IPO.
Major businesses built by Amadeus include Lastminute.com, the online travel and experience company, the CSR (LSE:CSR), a connectivity, audio, imaging and location semiconductor company; Solexa, the developer of next generation genetic analysis systems, merged into Illumina (ILMN) to create the world leader in gene-sequencing technology, Octo Telematics, the global leader in insurance telematics services acquired by Renova Group; and Transmode (ST:TRMO), an optical networking solutions business. For more information, please visit amadeus.wedevelopdigital.co.uk
Founded in 1999 in Sweden as the true pioneer of online travel, Travelstart’s African businesses were spun off in 2010 to focus on the emerging market opportunity, where it has been growing profitably since and now has 75% market share.
Travelstart addresses the complexities in the African travel market by directly accessing local supply, solving language and currency problems as well as the diverse plethora of payment methods. In addition to its first class technology platform which meets the need of travel bookers on mobile and desktop,
Travelstart prides itself on delivering an exceptional service experience to its customers. Travelstart provides travellers with real-time access to thousands of flights from all carriers and serves 2 million monthly users in 16 countries. Travelstart has been in South Africa since 2006 and has offices in Cape Town, Dubai, Istanbul, Lagos, Cairo and Dar es Salaam.
About The MTN Group
Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.” As of 30 September 2015, MTN recorded 233 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.