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by Ryan Smith20 Feb 2017
Airbnb Inc. bought Luxury Retreats in its biggest acquisition yet as the apartment-rental website takes steps toward becoming a full-service global travel company.

Airbnb unveiled the acquisition of the Canadian manager of high-end rentals and services Thursday, declining to disclose financial terms. The cash and stock deal was worth roughly $300 million, people familiar with the matter said. Bloomberg reported the two were in talks last week.

Accor SA, Europe’s biggest hotel operator, and Expedia Inc., the global online travel giant, also bid for Luxury Retreats, people familiar with the matter said. Those companies’ cash offers were bigger, but Luxury Retreats decided on Airbnb partly because its founder, Joe Poulin, foresaw having more control than at those other firms, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private.

Airbnb, Luxury Retreats and Expedia declined to comment on the bidding process. Accor didn’t immediately have comment.

Luxury Retreats, with more than 4,000 properties around the world, has built a concierge service that Airbnb will be able to offer to its customers. Premium vacation-home rentals are a key growth area for the travel industry, which seeks greater profit margins on properties rented to wealthy globe-trotters.

Luxury Retreats will remain based in Montreal, and Poulin will lead the San Francisco parent company’s luxury homes division, reporting to Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky, the company said in a statement.

Accor said this month it was in negotiations to buy Travel Keys, a broker of private villas in the Caribbean, Florida and Mexico, adding to its 150 million euro acquisition of luxury home rental site Onefinestay last year. Expedia is expanding its vacation listings business HomeAway, which has its own high-end division called Luxury Rentals. The heads of HomeAway and Onefinestay both left their companies soon after they were acquired.

The purchase of Luxury Retreats is just one of many deals expected for Airbnb in 2017. The company is considering several acquisitions and partnership deals, people with knowledge of Airbnb’s plans have said. Targets are in airfare aggregation, group payments and pricing tools to help homeowners make more money when listing their properties on Airbnb, the people said. The company, valued at $31 billion, is also focused on doing deals in China and India, they said.


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