AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVEL RELATED SERVICES
AGREES TO PURCHASE LIFECO TRAVEL
NEW YORK, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., announced today that it has signed an agreement to acquire Houston-based Lifeco Travel Services, the country's fifth largest travel agency. American Express has agreed to purchase 100 percent of the stock of Lifeco and its affiliates, including Competitive Technologies, Inc., a travel technology firm based in Houston.
Closing is expected before year end, subject to satisfaction of certain closing conditions and approval of appropriate governmental and travel industry authorities. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.
The acquisition will strengthen American Express' position as the leading travel management company in the United States and broaden its presence in the Southwest, where many of Lifeco's clients and offices are located.
In making the announcement, Roger H. Ballou, president, American Express Travel Services Group, said that the acquisition demonstrates the company's commitment to invest in its core businesses.
"The travel and entertainment industry has been the major focus of American Express from its beginnings. And, since the advent of deregulation, American Express has played an increasingly important role in helping companies manage their business travel expenses," said Ballou. "We believe that this is an excellent time to expand our interests, and Lifeco is an ideal partner as we follow this course."
Lifeco has a well-earned reputation for quality customer service, innovative technology and forward-thinking management, Ballou stated. "These characteristics fit well with our culture, and, combined with our worldwide resources, will enable American Express to become a more forceful agency ally for corporations, which need to be very aggressive in managing T&E expenses."
Lifeco Travel Services was founded in 1979. In 1991, Lifeco's projected sales totaled $1.2 billion, with approximately 90 percent of that volume attributable to corporate travel.
The company operates 260 full-service offices nationwide and employs approximately 1,800 people in the United States. In addition, Lifeco owns three travel companies overseas (Mark Allan Travel, U.K.; Tourisme Industrie, France; and Lifeco-RAK, Germany).
In acquiring Lifeco, American Express will also be indirectly acquiring Lifeco's 60 percent interest in the outstanding shares of Integrated Travel Services Inc. (ITSI), a publicly traded company listed on the Vancouver Stock Exchange.
After the purchase is concluded, Lifeco Travel Services will be integrated into American Express over a period of 12 to 24 months. "Our goal is to maintain a high level of client servicing and ensure a seamless transition," said Ballou. "We're committed to keeping our clients and employees fully informed and involved throughout this period."
Barney Kogen, Lifeco's founder and chairman of the board, is leaving the travel agency business to devote his time to a new venture in the airline industry. Lifeco's senior management, including Mike Buckman, Steven Taylor and CTI executives Jeff Hoffman and Eddie Martin, have agreed to remain with the company.
The purchase represents the third agency acquisition in 18 months for American Express. In August 1990, American Express acquired AIT Travel Management Companies, Inc., based in Phoenix, and last February, it purchased Revere Travel, Inc., of Lawrenceville, N.J.
American Express, which has been a travel provider for over 100 years, maintains a network of over 1,700 travel service offices in more than 120 countries. American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Express Company (NYSE: AXP) -- a family of diversified travel, financial and information services businesses.
/CONTACT: Nancy Muller, 212-640-2479, or Christine Levite, 212-640-3382, both of American Express/
(AXP) CO: American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. ST: New York, Texas IN: LEI SU: TNM FC-TS -- NY019 -- 3795 12/19/91 10:31 EST