Priceline Acquires OpenTable, Expands To Restaurant Booking

Katie Frates | Editor-in-chief of The Daily Walkthrough

After taking over Kayak last year, Priceline is moving to acquire OpenTable.

The acquisition will cost Priceline $2.6 billion, its priciest purchase yet. The second highest it paid was $1.8 billion for Kayak last year.

Priceline focuses on online travel booking and is best known for its ‘The Negotiator’ commercial series, featuring William Shatner.

On the other hand, OpenTable dominates the restaurant booking service. It encompasses over 15 million diners and more than 31,000 restaurants.

Priceline has enjoyed seven years of increasing profits, quelling any concerns that acquiring OpenTable is due to a slowdown. The deal is also nothing new. Priceline has long eyed OpenTable, meeting with their management team at several conferences over the years.

Darren R. Huston, chief executive of Priceline, sees the companies as fundamentally similar. “For us it’s a really natural extension,” he said in a telephone interview with StarTribune. “A lot of what we do day to day is very similar.”

While both companies manage reservations, they are not completely similar. Priceline is an online travel agency, collecting commission on user reservations. OpenTable has integrated its software directly into restaurant’s systems, helping to manage seat inventory and keep track of customers.

Priceline will pay $103 per share in the all-cash deal, a 46 percent premium to OpenTable’s Thursday closing price. The price is fair for Huston, who called OpenTable “a very premium asset.”

Paying such a hefty price has caused speculation among investors that other local-based listing businesses may also receive large takeover premiums. Shares in Yelp and GrubHub rose 14 percent and 7 percent respectively.

However, Huston was quick to clarify that Priceline is not looking to acquire anything else for the time being. “We’re not on an acquisition binge,” he said.

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