American Express sells half its business travel division

With business travel spending expected to rise this year, American Express Co. announced plans to sell half its business travel division and create a separate venture.

American Express will give up 50% ownership of its global business travel division in exchange for an investment of $900 million from a group led by New York investment firm Certares.

The ownership will be shared with Certares, Qatar Investment Authority, BlackRock and Macquarie Capital, according to American Express.

The business will operate as a separate venture under the American Express Global Business Travel brand. Bill Glenn, formerly president of global commercial services at American Express, will be president and chief executive of the venture.

The company provides travel services -- flight, hotel and car rental reservations, among other services -- for business travelers.


In a statement, Glenn said the investment will “accelerate our growth by funding meaningful advances in technology, analytics and service excellence that will benefit suppliers, partners and our global customer base.”

With the U.S. economy on the mend, spending on business travel is expected to rise in 2014, according to the Global Business Travel Assn. Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the national trade group for business travel companies.

U.S. business travel spending is expected to rise 6.6% to $289.8 billion in 2014, the travel group predicted in January. The biggest jump in spending -- 12.5% -- will come from international travel, which grew only 1.8% last year compared with 2012, the group said.


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