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Travelocity Owner Sabre Holdings Returns to Wall Street After IPO

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Though Sabre Holdings (SABR) priced its initial public offering below what it expected, that's not worrying CFO Rick Simonson, who's looking to the long haul for the technology provider to the global travel and tourism industry.

In an interview with TheStreet, Simonson said that despite the broader market's volatility, he and Texas-based Sabre Holdings were pleased with the initial public offering, which priced 39.2 million shares at $16 a share. That's down from the initial range the company provided in its S-1 filing, when it expected to sell 44.7 million shares at a range of $18 to $20.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, BofA Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank acted as joint book runners for the offering.

"There's strong demand for the IPO," Simonson said over the phone. "I look to the long haul, and we're looking to build value from here."

Sabre, best known for its Travelocity travel site, is one of the leading technology companies to the whole travel industry, being in the travel network business. "We sit between suppliers and the suppliers of travel. Our marketplace is bigger than what goes between Amazon (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY). We have a leading position there -- we love that business and our position in it," Simonson stated.

Aside from the travel network business, Sabre has a software-as-a-solutions (SaaS) business that's growing at a double digit percentage, which services all the big travel companies, including Priceline.com (PCLN), Expedia (EXPE) and others, to name a few. "We're one of the biggest SaaS companies out there, number two as measured by EBITDA to Salesforce.com (CRM). We've got a good understanding of the end consumers bc we service all the big travel players."

Sabre is making its return to the public markets, after having been taken private by TPG Capital and Silver Lake Partners in 2007 for about $5 billion, including debt. Simonson noted that the company, which still has about $3.6 billion in gross debt, will use the net proceeds from the offering to help pay down the debt. "We had a 4.4 times leverage ratio at the end of the last year. With the IPO, that will come down to 3.5 times leverage," Simonson said.

Somewhat unusual for a tech company going public, Sabre is going to pay a 9-cent per share dividend, a fact Simonson attests to the company's strong balance sheet. "We can start life with a dividend, a healthy dividend because we have a balanced capital structure," the CFO said.

In addition to going public, Sabre announced three new products -- Customer Experience Manager, Guest Connect Upsell and TripCase Corporate -- "to help travel companies design and offer a more personalized shopping and travel experiences for travelers."

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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