Speculation in recent months that European online travel agency powerhouse Odigeo was eyeing its own move into travel search has come to fruition - it has bought French site Liligo from SNCF.
The owner of the Opodo, eDreams, GoVoyages and TravelLink agency sites has picked up Liligo from SNCF just three years to the day since the rail operator splashed out a rumoured Euro 20 million on the now eight-year-old company.
Why SNCF has decided to offload the Liligo brand within a relatively short space of time is unclear (SNCF has not responded to requests for comment), not least because when the acquisition was made the deputy general manager of SNCF Voyages, Pierre Alzon, was quoted as saying the company "strong believe in the explosion of travel comparison market and we had to have a foot in this market".
Still, Odigeo now has its hands on an established brand in Liligo and is signalling to the wider OTA marketplace that it can also get into the travel search sector.
Odigeo is not giving away any significant details (including the purchase price) as yet, only confirming the deal via email and adding:
"We are excited to welcome Liligo to our group and to have Odigeo present on the various stages of the consumer travel experience."
The acquisition follows those of Kayak by Priceline for $1.8 billion last November and Expedia's purchase of a majority stake in Trivago for $632 million earlier this year.
It also comes a week after Skyscannersecured a "partnership" with investment giant Sequoia Capital which valued the company at around $800 million.
Liligo has a sizeable presence in Europe. It has a string of local language sites across the continent and at the time of the SNCF deal was claiming around Euro 100 million turnover each year on the back of approximately two million monthly unique visitors.
The company will continue to be run as an independent division within Odigeo by founder and CEO Pierre Bonelli, Odigeo says.