The board of travel group Helloworld has ended talks to buy Australia’s biggest inbound operator, the AOT Group.

AOT Group owners Andrew and Cinzia Burnes bought 10% of HLO stock in April.

These talks were flagged in the Australian Financial Review, forcing HLO to go public with negotiations on Sept 2.

“The Board of HLO has unanimously concluded that the strategic and financial merits of the acquisition on the terms proposed were insufficiently compelling to warrant proceeding with the transaction,” HLO said in a statement today.

“The terms of the transaction would have resulted in the vendors of AOT becoming significant minority shareholders in HLO.”

Other major HLO shareholders include UBS 7.4%, Europe Voyager 23.3% and Spiros Alysandratos from Consolidated Travel with around 20%.

“HLO remains focused on its existing strategy and is making strong progress to future proof its business and drive returns for shareholders, agents, industry partners and consumers.

“The search process for appointing a new CEO is ongoing and HLO will update the market in due course.”

Update Sept 28 – Andrew Burnes has ridiculed HLO, telling the Australian Financial Review: “It’s a fairly extraordinary and disingenuous statement given that the terms they are talking about are their own terms.

“Terms that they proposed, terms that we had not even been given an opportunity to respond to.

“This business has such a poor track record of under-performance and these types of attempts to re-write history are very unimpressive.”

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