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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020

The Irishman who took a punt on Skyscanner is set to win from its €1.7bn sale

Ray Nolan was an early investor in the billion-euro travel site that was sold to Chinese firm Ctrip.


SCOTTISH TRAVEL SEARCH site Skyscanner has been sold to Chinese online travel firm Ctrip for an estimated £1.4 billion (€1.7 billion).

Irish serial entrepreneur Ray Nolan, who previously served as chairman of the Edinburgh-based site, was an early investor in the company, taking a 2% stake.

The size of the deal means that, on paper, Nolan stands to make €34 million from the sale.

Nolan tweeted last night: “As long as I live I will never work with better people – a great way point for the most unbelievable team of people. @Skyscanner.”

This morning, he said he was back to work on his latest startup, e-commerce software firm XSellco, after “a brief but welcome distraction”.

Skyscanner – a price comparison site that scours the web for deals on flights, hotels and rental cars – was not Nolan’s first venture in the travel industry.

He founded accommodation booking site Hostelworld, formerly called Web Reservations International, in 1999 and sold it 10 years later for over €200 million. He personally bagged about half of that sum.

He has made a number of investments in Irish companies like Storyful and push notification startup Openback, and co-founded sports app Ultimate Rugby with former Irish rugby international Brian O’Driscoll.

Global positioning

Skyscanner, which Nolan joined in 2010, is available in more than 30 languages.

It claims to have more than 60 million users in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas.

Ctrip’s purchase of the site consists of cash mainly with the remainder made up of Ctrip ordinary shares and loan notes.

The Chinese company was founded in 1999 and is one of the country’s best known travel businesses.

Ctrip co-founder and executive chairman James Jianzhang Liang said the deal will complement his company’s positioning “at a global scale”.

“We are excited to welcome Skyscanner into the Ctrip group,” he said. “Ctrip and Skyscanner share the same passion and dedication in providing travelers around the world with better services. This acquisition will strengthen long-term growth drivers for both companies.”

Written by Conor McMahon and posted on

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