Travelocity owner Sabre’s IPO prices at $16 per share, says underwriter-Reuters

(Reuters) – An initial public offering by travel booking wholesaler Sabre Corp priced at $16 per share, an underwriter said, valuing the owner of the Travelocity website at $3.93 billion.

The pricing came below the company’s expected range of $18 to $20 per share. It was not immediately clear how many shares Sabre was offering. The company initially offered about 44.74 million shares.

Sabre, spun off from American Airlines parent AMR Corp in 2000, was taken private by TPG Capital and Silver Lake Partners in 2007 for about $5 billion, including debt.

If underwriters exercise their option to buy additional shares, the stake held by TPG, Sabre’s biggest shareholder, will drop to 36 percent after the offering, from 45.2 percent, while Silver Lake’s stake will drop to 22.2 percent from 27.8 percent.

Shares of the company are expected to start trading on Thursday on the Nasdaq under the symbol “SABR.”

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs & Co, BofA Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank Securities are the lead underwriters of the offering.

Texas-based Sabre is the largest global distribution systems provider in North America for air bookings.

The company operates under three platforms – Travel Network, Airline and Hospitality Solutions, and Travelocity.

Sabre’s competitors include Spanish travel bookings company Amadeus IT Holding SA and U.S private firm Travelport, which owns the Galileo, Apollo and Worldspan GDS platforms.

Net loss attributable to Sabre narrowed to $100.49 million in 2013 from $611.35 million, a year earlier, while revenue rose about 2.5 percent to $3.05 billion.

The IPO comes at a time when the travel and tourism industry is growing at a rapid rate.

The industry added $6.6 trillion to the global GDP in 2012, according to a research report by the World Travel & Tourism Council. Air travel and hotel spending is expected to grow at 5 percent annually from 2013 to 2017 while technology spending by air transportation and hospitality sectors is expected to grow to $70 billion in 2017 from $60 billion in 2013.

Net proceeds from the offering will be used to repay debt, Sabre said in its filing.