A deal that was perhaps unlikely just one year ago: American Express Global Business Travel is to buy Expedia Group’s corporate travel division Egencia. Terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. Expedia Group will become a shareholder in Amex GBT, and part of the agreement will see the pair enter a long-term strategic partnership. The proposed deal is subject to consultation by Expedia Group and Egencia with employee representatives, as well as customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

Amex GBT says it will “continue to invest in the Egencia brand, its people and technology, as part of the world’s leading business travel platform”.

Amex GBT CEO Paul Abbott says: “Our strategy is to provide customers with unparalleled choice by having the best solutions for each managed travel segment that we serve. In Egencia, we would welcome the industry’s leading digital business travel platform.”

Egencia would be strengthened by GBT’s complementary technology, enterprise capabilities and cutting-edge content. This would create new opportunities for both multinational and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients, suppliers and the talented teams within both organisations.

The deal comes amid ongoing interest in financial backing the new breed of corporate travel management startups, such as Trip Actions and Travel Perk. The pair recently announced $155 million and $166 million investment rounds, respectively.

Egencia was considered the smaller of the major travel management companies alongside Amex GBT, BCD Travel and CWT. It was created as a unit within Expedia in 2004, before renaming to Egencia in 2008 following the acquisition of a venture capital-backed business travel startup in France of the same name. Acquisitions of its own came in 2011 and 2012 with deals to buy Traveldoo and VIA Travel.

“We are thrilled by the potential transaction and what GBT and Egencia could achieve together, as Expedia Group seeks to simplify our business and be a leader in all of our endeavours. The combination of GBT’s leading solutions with Egencia’s great technology and team would help create the world’s best business travel offerings for customers and suppliers,” says Ariane Gorin, president of Expedia Business Services.

“At the same time, a greatly expanded, long-term accommodations supply agreement with Expedia Partner Solutions (EPS) would enhance GBT’s Supply Market Place and meaningfully further Expedia Group’s goal of powering businesses across the entire eco-system.”