Travelport has sold its payments business eNett to rival brand WEX, in a combined deal that includes virtual card issuer Optal and is valued at $1.7 billion.
The decision to offload the eNett division comes just nine months after Travelport came off the public financial markets and went back into the hands of private equity.
WEX will pay $1.275 billion in cash and the rest in common shares to existing owners, Siris Capital Group and Elliot Management Corporation for Travelport and private owners for Optal, it says in a statement.
Optal and eNett already had a significant partnership together, having signed an agreement in April 2015 for the virtual card issuer to be the primary provider of virtual account numbers (VANs) worldwide.
eNett’s VANs allow travel agencies to generate a unique 16-digit Mastercard number used to pay travel suppliers with less risk, with a new number used for each booking or payment transaction.
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The payments business was often seen as jewel in the crown in the Travelport portfolio, with sustained and healthy growth figures compared to the distribution and technology divisions.
Formed in 2009 as a joint venture with PSP International, 73% of eNett's ownership was eventually held by Travelport.
The last full-year results for Travelport had eNett coming in with net revenue growth of 63% year-over-year to $315 million for 2018.
Travelport's final quarterly earnings report before coming off the public markets in May 2019 saw eNett post a 12% increase to $83 million for first three months of the year.
A Travelport official says: "This is good news for Travelport, as we tighten our strategic focus and good news for eNett, which gains a new owner that complements its capabilities.”
From a WEX perspective, buying the two companies gives its a "unique but complementary product suite" and an ability to grow the company outside of the United States, says chair and CEO Melissa Smith.
She adds: "We are confident this transaction will enable us to accelerate our growth by deepening and expanding our position in the global travel market, broadening our product offerings to more fully address the needs of our travel customers, and diversifying our business geographically while reducing our exposure to macro-economic factors."
The sale of the two businesses is expected to be completed in the middle of 2020.