Primera to buy Budget Travel pending EU authority approval

BUDGET Travel has been sold by its German owners in a multi-million euro deal to Icelandic travel firm Primera.

The value of the gross assets disposed of is €46.4 million and the completion of the sale is subject to approval from the EU competition authority.

Budget Travel, the country’s largest travel agency, is part of German travel firm TUI, which recently won conditional permission from the European Commission for a merge of its tourism unit with British-based First Choice.

In June the EU Commission said its decision was conditional upon the divestiture by TUI of its Irish business operating under the Budget Travel brand.

“In light of this commitment, the commission has concluded that the proposed transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European economic area,” it said.

The commission ruled that the ownership of both First Choice’s Falcon/JWT business and Budget Travel would give the group too much of the Irish market.

First Choice operates in Ireland under the Falcon/JWT holiday group, while TUI’s Thomson Holidays has been the biggest British tour operator since 1974.

Budget Travel was founded by Gillian Bowler who left school aged 15 after missing two years because of a near-fatal kidney inquiry.

She founded the travel company with a £100 (€145) bank loan and later sold a 90% stake in it to British media and leisure group Granada for £5.7 million (€8.3m) in 1987.

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