Takeover bid sees Ticket trading halted

Trading in shares of the Ticket travel company was halted on the Stockholm stock exchange on Tuesday morning after the company’s stock price shot up 22 percent on rumours of a takeover bid by the firm's primary owner.

“I can’t give any comments on this at the present time,” said Ticket CFO Thomas Ådén to the TT news agency shortly after trading stopped at 10.30 on Tuesday morning.

“We’ll get back to you; we currently have no more information.”

Later on Tuesday, Norwegian businessman Per G. Braathen, whose Braganza investment firm has been Ticket’s primary owner since May 2009, confirmed he wanted to buy up all of Ticket’s publicly traded shares.

In order to entice shareholders to give up their shares in Ticket, Braathen said he would offer them a cash offer of 7 kronor ($0.97) per share, a roughly 21 percent premium over Tickets Monday closing share price.

The offer values the loss-making travel company at 235 million kronor.

Braganza became Ticket’s largest shareholder when it purchased shares from the bankrupt Icelandic company Fons.

On Tuesday morning, Braganza snapped up an additional 535,000 Ticket shares, bringing its ownership stake up to 32 percent, the ownership threshold which, according to exchange rules, requires an investor to make an offer to buy up a company’s remaining shares.

Braganza owns several other companies in the travel and tourism industry, including Malmö Aviation, and thus sees itself as possessing “vast industry knowledge about Ticket’s prerequisites and needs”, according to a statement.

The Norwegian investment firm added that it has the financial resources necessary to support Ticket in the long term and that it believes the company can thrive under private ownership.

“In private ownership, management will be given the ability to devote their time to operational activities,” according to Braganza’s statement, noting as well that a delisting of Ticket would allow the company to save the costs associated with remaining on the exchange.

While Braganza intends to help return Ticket to profitability, it said it has “no plans which will result in any significant consequences or effects” for Ticket employees, according to the statement.

Following the stop in trading, officials with the Stockholm stock exchange now plan to investigate whether information about the deal leaked, of if Ticket shares were driven up simply by the huge number of shares purchased by Braganza.

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How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans

After long months of lockdowns and curfews Europeans are looking forward to jetting off for a bit of sun and sand -- only to find that their long awaited holiday plans go awry due to a shortage of rental cars.

How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans
Tourists wait outside of rental car agencies in Corsica. Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

In many areas popular with tourists cars are simply not available or subcompacts are going for a stiff €500 euros.

Car rental comparison websites show just how expensive renting a vehicle has become for tourists this summer.

According to Carigami, renting a car for a week this summer will set tourists back an average of 364 euros compared to 277 euros two years ago.

For Italy, the figure is 407 euros this summer compared to 250 euros in 2019. In Spain, the average cost has jumped to 263 euros from 185 euros.

According to another website, Liligo, daily rental costs have nearly doubled on the French island of Corsica. At the resort city of Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca, rental prices have nearly tripled.

Today’s problem is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faced with near absence of clients, selling off vehicles to raise cash made a lot of sense for car rental firms struggling to survive.

“Everyone drastically reduced their fleet,” said the head of Europcar, Caroline Parot.

Until the spring, most companies still had fleets roughly a third smaller than in 2019, she said.

Car rental firms are used to regularly selling their vehicles and replacing them, so rebuilding their inventory should not have been a problem.

Except the pandemic sent demand for consumer electronics surging, creating a shortage of semiconductors, or chips, that are used not only in computers but increasingly in cars.

“A key contributor to the challenge right now is the global chip shortage, which has impacted new vehicle availability across the industry at a time when demand is already high,” said a spokesman for Enterprise.

It said it was working to acquire new vehicles but that in the mean time it is shifting cars around in order to better meet demand.

No cars, try a van

“We’ve begun to warn people: if you want to come to Italy, which is finally reopening, plan and reserve ahead,” said the head of the association of Italian car rental firms, Massimiliano Archiapatti.

He said they were working hard to meet the surge in demand at vacation spots.

“But we’ve got two big islands that are major international tourism destinations,” he said, which makes it difficult to move cars around,
especially as the trip to Sardinia takes half a day.

“The ferries are already full with people bringing their cars,” he added.

“Given the law of supply and demand, there is a risk it will impact on prices,” Archiapatti said.

The increase in demand is also being seen for rentals between individuals.

GetAround, a web platform that organises such rentals, said it has seen “a sharp increases in searches and rentals” in European markets.

Since May more than 90 percent of cars available on the platform have been rented on weekends, and many have already been booked for much of the summer.

GetAround has used the surge in demand to expand the number of cities it serves.

For some, their arrival can’t come fast enough.

Bruno Riondet, a 51-year-old aeronautics technician, rents cars to attend matches of his favourite British football club, Brighton.

“Before, to rent a car I was paying between 25 and 30 euros per day. Today, it’s more than 90 euros, that’s three times more expensive,” he said.

In the United States, where prices shot higher during the spring, tourists visiting Hawaii turned to renting vans.

In France, there are still cars, according to Jean-Philippe Doyen, who handles shared mobility at the National Council of Automobile Professionals.

“Clients have a tendency to reserve at the last minute, even more so in the still somewhat uncertain situation,” he said.

They will often wait until just a few days before their trip, which means car rental firms don’t have a complete overview of upcoming demand, he added.

He said business is recovering but that revenue has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels as travel is not yet completely unfettered.

SEE ALSO: British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules