American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) today announced it has signed an agreement to acquire SMT, a travel management company (TMC) based in Finland and a subsidiary of Finnair. SMT has been an important partner within the GBT network for 27 years. When the transaction completes later this year, the company and its staff will formally join the GBT family.
Elyes Mrad, GBT’s Managing Director, EMEA, said: “SMT has a customer-centric approach to business and is driven by a passion for delivering superior customer service. This, of course, is underpinned by its profound knowledge of the Finnish marketplace. It is a natural fit with GBT. Companies and organizations in Finland and around the world will continue to benefit from SMT’s local expertise, and the advantages of GBT’s global scale and access.”
The acquisition, according to Steven Curts, GBT’s Chief Strategy Officer, is an important step in the evolution of GBT’s global business. He said: “At GBT, we are focused on improving our customer experience, offerings, and footprint through acquisitions, partnerships and organic growth. The purchase of SMT is an exciting milestone on this strategic journey.”
SMT was formed in 2013 after the merger of the two largest Finnish-owned business travel agencies, Area Travel Agency and Finland Travel Bureau. The company provides travel management and meeting and event services to customers throughout Finland. Under the leadership of Kirsi Paakkari, SMT has adopted an increasingly lean and entrepreneurial approach to the marketplace.
Paakkari said: “SMT’s main strategic objective is to be a leading provider of corporate travel services in Finland. Joining GBT accelerates our progress toward that objective. We have motivated, productive and innovative employees. Our dynamic business style, combined with GBT’s resources, will make us a powerful and effective business travel partner for companies across Finland.”
Juha Järvinen, Chief Commercial Officer of Finnair and chairman for SMT’s Board of Directors, said: “SMT will flourish within the innovative and dynamic growth environment provided by GBT. If TMCs are to succeed, they must stay ahead of technological developments while adopting a serious and effective approach to traveller security. GBT will provide the ideal platform to develop SMT’s business in Finland going forward.”
Järvinen said the Finnair Group decided to divest SMT after a successful turnaround in the TMC business. He added that the Finnair Group’s focus would remain on its core airline businesses.
GBT plans to close the transaction in the third quarter of 2016.