NewsTravelzoo Asia-Pacific deal a family affairThis article was originally published onBy Dennis Schaal | October 9, 2009 Travelzoo, a pubicly traded company controlled by founder and Chairman Ralph Bartel, has agreed to sell Travelzoo's Asia-Pacific division, including Travelzoo Hong Kong, Travelzoo Japan, Travelzoo China, Travelzoo Taiwan andTravelzoo Australia, for $3.6 million million to companies controlled by -- Ralph Bartel.You'll notice I used Bartel's first name, Ralph, twice in the preceding sentence. That's because I don't want to get you confused with Holger Bartel, Travelzoo's CEO, who's Ralph's brother.You may see where I am going with this.Apart from the coziness of the pending transaction (which could still be upended by a rival bid, but I am not holding my breath), the deal actually could be a clever move by Travelzoo -- not to mention Ralph Bartel -- and fuel Travelzoo's expansion in Europe and Asia-Pacific.Travelzoo, a deal-publisher and media company which also operates Fly.com, has seen its Asia-Pacific holdings acting as a drag on earnings all year. In its second quarter results, the most recent available, Travelzoo recorded an operating loss of $1.8 million in APAC and $1.1 million in Europe, respectively.For a U.S.-based company, getting some traction in APAC, with its burgeoning markets, can be very tough going, as Travelzoo and others have learned.So, with the APAC transaction, Ralph Bartel's Azzurro Capital and its subsidiaries seemingly will get Travelzoo's APAC holdings, with all of their potential, at a very nice price. In the process, they unload these earnings' downers off Travelzoo's books, and hopefully see some capital flowing back into Travelzoo as its stock price recovers.In the interim, Ralph Bartel has some time to get his new APAC deal-publishing and metasearch units back on track.One competitor tells me that Travelzoo's APAC businesses likely will turn the corner into profitability before long and then Ralph Bartel, a former journalist who has become a very rich guy, to say the least, will earn some more dinero along the way.Yes, this deal, which is expected to close before Oct. 31, is a very close-knit thing. (Actually, it is not dissimilar in some ways to the relationship between Barry Diller's IAC and Expedia Inc.)Travelzoo and Azzurro have a hosting agreement in which Travelzoo will host and operate much of its former division's software, data and content.And, then Travelzoo (aka majority stockholder Ralph Bartel and TZOO's minority investors) have an option to buy out the APAC assets from 2011 to 2020, when you have to assume the businesses would be in the black and wracking up transactions for their advertisers.You might think of it all as empire-building -- Travelzoo-style.