Gleeson to oversee $3bn Travelport flotation
THE former chairman of AIB, Dermot Gleeson, a pivotal figure in the Irish banking crisis, has landed a new role chairing a travel reservations firm set for a $3bn (€2.1bn) flotation. Mr Gleeson, who stepped down last summer, may be in line for generous share options as a result of the float.
Travelport owns travel brands like Orbitz, Galileo and Worldspan, and yesterday the company defended its choice of Mr Gleeson, who was heavily criticised by AIB shareholders during 2009. Mr Gleeson also chaired the bank when it was forced to go to the Government for a guarantee in September 2008.
A spokesman for Travelport said: "For those of us at Travelport who know him, it is quite clear that he is the best person for the job. He is a strong advisor and we believe he has the right skills to successfully chair Travelport as a newly listed company."
Travelport, which is majority-owned by Blackstone, aims to raise about $2bn in an attempt to reduce debt. The float is the largest to take place in London in almost two years and the non-executive position assumed by Mr Gleeson will be a high- profile one with Travelport employing 5,300 people.
It is understood Travelport had discussions with Mr Gleeson before the Irish banking crisis. It put off floatation after the credit crunch reduced the appetite for public listings. The management of the company holds between 7pc and 10pc of the company, although it is understood Mr Gleeson does not hold shares in this stake.
Apart from the large stake held by Blackstone, other shareholders are One Equity Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures. Travelport posted third-quarter revenues of $570m, down from $634m a year earlier. Barclays Capital, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and UBS are managing the sale.
"The business has come through the downturn in good shape and is now poised for cyclical rebound," chief executive Jeff Clarke said yesterday.
Mr Gleeson is a former Irish attorney general and senior counsel. However, due to the scale of the global financial crisis Mr Gleeson found himself drawing the ire of AIB shareholders, particularly during a stormy annual general meeting last year when one shareholder threw eggs at Mr Gleeson and then-chief executive Eugene Sheehy.
Mr Gleeson said at the time that he profoundly regretted the loss of shareholder's money.