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Sabre plans public stock offering to raise $100 million

Travelocity’s gnome will be roaming once again on the stock market.

The online travel site’s parent company, Southlake-based Sabre Corp., filed for an initial public offering Tuesday, aiming to raise about $100 million.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sabre said it is “well-positioned” for growth, particularly with its businesses in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. Besides owning Travelocity, Sabre runs the computer passenger reservation systems for several airlines, including American Airlines.

“Both our Travel Network and our Airline and Hospitality Solutions businesses have significant opportunities to expand their customer bases … extend their geographic footprint and develop new products,” the S-1 registration filing said.

Sabre, which was taken private in 2007 in a $5 billion buyout led by TPG Funds and Silver Lake Funds, also disclosed financial figures showing that it has operated in the red since 2008. The company, which has 10,000 employees worldwide, reported a $611 million net loss in 2012 on $3.03 billion in revenue.

For the first nine months of 2013, the company recorded a net loss of $127 million on $2.34 billion in revenue. About 65 percent of its revenue was generated from airlines and booking fees charged to carriers for processing tickets and reservations.

The company plans to use the proceeds from the offering to partly pay down debt. According to the filing, Sabre has $3.6 billion in long-term debt.

Sabre started as part of AMR Corp., the former parent of American Airlines, as the airline replaced its handwritten ticket system with an automated reservation system. Travel agencies began using the computer system in the 1970s to book tickets. Sabre was spun off from AMR as a separate public company in 2000.

In 2012, the company processed 37 percent of the airline bookings in the world with its global distribution system, the filing said.

The company has yet to determine the number of shares to be sold or the price range for the offering. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank Securities will jointly manage the offering.

In August, Sam Gilliland stepped down as Sabre’s chief executive officer and was replaced with company President Tom Klein. That same month, Sabre entered into a long-term marketing agreement with rival Expedia to handle the technology platform behind the Travelocity website and give it access to Expedia’s supply and customer service platforms.

According to Tuesday’s filing, Expedia has the right to acquire Travelocity outright at any point during the eight-year agreement with Sabre.

The company has also been involved in several antitrust lawsuits, alleging that Sabre monopolizes the U.S. global distribution market.

In 2012, it settled a lawsuit with American, paying the airline $347 million as part of the agreement.

It is still in a legal battle with US Airways, which merged with American in December, and faces an antitrust investigation by the Justice Department.

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