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April 17, 2014

Sabre prices IPO at $16 a share, debuts on NASDAQ

Sabre Nasdaq photoSabre Corp. is back on the market.

The Southlake-based travel technology firm debuted on the NASDAQ stock market today, trading under the symbol SABR for $16 a share in its initial public offering.

The company, which owns Travelocity.com, priced its public offering $2 a share lower than it had anticipated. Several initial public offerings made this week raised less funds than expected because of a recent dip in the markets.

Sabre plans to use the proceeds from the stock offering to partly pay down debt, according to a filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

"We believe we are well-positioned for future growth," the company said in its stock prospectus, mentioning its travel network growth in Latin America and Asia.

This is the second time Sabre has chosen to run with the bulls and bears of the stock market. The company was originally part of the former parent of American Airlines and was spun off as a separate public company in 2000. It was then taken private in 2007 in a $5 billion buyout led by TPG Funds and Silver Lake Funds.

Sabre was created at American as the airline replaced its handwritten ticket system with an automated reservation system. The company has 10,000 employees worldwide and reported a $100 million net loss in 2013 on $3.05 billion in revenue. It has also posted annual losses since 2008, according to government filings.

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.

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.

-Andrea Ahles



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