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American Express GBT Expands Into Middle East

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) is expanding into the Middle East through a new joint venture with Kanoo Travel, one of the largest travel management networks in the region. GBT says it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a controlling stake in Kanoo, allowing it to form a joint venture with parent company YBA Kanoo Group to provide managed travel and events services to clients in the Middle East. 

Kanoo Travel, which has been a key member of GBT’s global travel partner network for many years, operates in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, GBT said. The transaction is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and customary conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019 or early in the first quarter of 2020.

GBT will hold 65 percent of the new joint venture, headquartered in Dubai, and assume management and operational control of the business and its 539 employees. YBA Kanoo Group will hold the remaining 35 percent stake in the joint venture.

GBT Managing Director, International Elyes Mrad said that Kanoo Travel has been a partner of GBT in the region for many years, and that it is known to many of GBT’s clients. 

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

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