American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Kanoo Travel, one of the largest travel management networks in the Middle East.

GBT says it will form a joint venture with the network’s parent company YBA Kanoo Group to provide managed travel and events services to clients in the region. The firm expects the transaction to close in Q4 2019 or early Q1 2020, subject to regulatory approvals.

On completion, GBT will own a 65 per cent stake of the new joint venture, which is headquartered in Dubai, and will assume management and operational control of the business and its 539 employees. YBA Kanoo Group will hold the remaining 35 per cent stake in the joint venture.

Kanoo Travel has been a member of GBT’s global travel partner network for years and operates in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

Commenting on the acquisition, GBT’s MD, international, Elyes Mrad said: “Kanoo Travel has been a trusted, long-term partner for GBT in the region for many years and is known and respected by many of our clients. The creation of the joint venture will enhance how we service those clients and their travellers by combining Kanoo’s region-specific expertise with the backing of GBT’s global scale and technology.”

Nabeel K Kanoo, president of Kanoo Travel, added: “GBT’s global clients, many of whom we already service, stand to benefit from a more consistent global offering because of this joint venture. Our own clients in the Middle East will profit in the long term from having access to GBT’s total travel and expense ecosystem, proprietary technology and global reach. Our people are also excited by the possibilities that come with being part of the world’s most recognisable business travel brand.”

The latest acquisition follows the purchase of German firm DER Business Travel and GBT’s partnership with Tourvest Travel Services in South Africa.

GBT made headlines last year when it acquired HRG, with the sale completing in July 2018.

CEO Doug Anderson told BBT in a recent interview that the company had a “very active [mergers and acquisitions] pipeline”, with 15 potential deals in the works.

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