This article originally appeared here.
Flight Centre Travel Group has taken its first steps into continental Europe with the acquisition of a Netherlands-based corporate travel agency.
The purchase of Business Travel Development (BTD), which had turnover of €10.3 million ($15.2 million) in financial year 2015, comes as rivals such as American Express Global Business Travel and Corporate Travel Management are also hunting for acquisitions to appeal to multinational clients.
Flight Centre reported turnover of $5.9 billion from its global corporate travel business in the year ended June 30, representing 33.6 per cent of group transactions.
The company did not disclose the price of the BTD acquisition, presumably because it is immaterial in the context of Flight Centre's global business.
Flight Centre already has corporate travel businesses in Britain and Ireland and it has made acquisitions in Mexico and Malaysia this financial year to further boost its global business.
Managing director Graham Turner said BTD was a cost-effective and low-risk entry into the key continental European market. The business has had a lengthy association with Flight Centre and was previously the FCM Travel Solutions' corporate travel network's licensee in the Netherlands.
"BTD is a profitable business that we know well and that operates in one of the world's largest corporate travel markets," Mr Turner said.
"Having a company-owned presence in the Netherlands strengthens our proposition for national and multinational clients and gives us a platform for further growth in the country and in Europe more broadly."
He said there would be opportunities to launch a dedicated small and medium enterprise offering, and possibly a leisure travel business in the longer term.
Mr Turner said Flight Centre's British business, headed by Chris Galanty, would oversee the FCM Netherlands operation.
Flight Centre did not provide any update to its financial guidance alongside the acquisition announcement.
Last month Flight Centre reaffirmed full-year guidance of a 4 to 8 per cent rise in underlying profit before tax to as much as $395 million, but Mr Turner said he expected most analysts would lower forecasts towards the bottom of the range because half-year underlying profit before tax rose just 3.4 per cent.
In the leisure market, Flight Centre has been ramping up its online offering through the acquisition of the Student Universe and BYOjet brands, and the creation of the new Aunt Betty package holiday brand.
Flight Centre has also been looking to grow the proportion of earnings from markets outside Australia, but results from some countries have proved disappointing to date.
Credit Suisse analyst Grant Saligari said the company's US leisure business performance was "underwhelming" in the first half of the financial year although the US corporate business generated a record profit.
The performance of the British business was also below his forecasts due to higher-than-expected cost growth. "A positive interpretation of this outcome is that the revenue expansion strategy is generally working as planned and therefore we interpret the cost increase as a one-off event in FY16," Mr Saligari said.