Coles teams with GE Capital to rival banks; Webjet scoops up European hotel provider SunHotels: Midday Roundup

Coles teams with GE Capital to rival banks; Webjet scoops up European hotel provider SunHotels: Midday Roundup

Supermarket Giant Coles has teamed up with credit provider GE Money to boost its financial services offerings, rivalling the banks for share of the lending market.

The joint venture will initially offer credit cards and personal finance products such as small loans, according to Coles, and will commence operations during 2015.

Coles will offer an added sweetener to pull credit customers away from the banks, with loyalty programs that will include money off groceries at Coles.

This isn’t the supermarket giant’s first foray into credit providing, with Coles initially offering financial services including insurance back in 2010. It also currently lists 400,000 Coles MasterCard holders on its books.

Rob Scott, Coles finance director, said while the banks have a head start on Coles, it was not a disadvantage.

“A joint venture is a logical next step for Coles to expand into financial services, building on the success of Coles No Annual Fee and Rewards credit cards,” he said in a statement.


Webjet scoops up European hotel provider SunHotels

Online Australian travel agency Webjet has entered into a binding agreement to acquire European hotel provider SunHotels Group for €21 million ($30.4 million).

Webjet said in a statement to the ASX today the deal is expected to be completed by the end of August. It will lead the publicly-listed company’s expansion into Europe, and follows a $25 million acquisition of Asian air ticket seller Zuji in 2013.

The SunHotels Group primarily operates in Britain and Scandinavia, providing hotels and transfers to European resort destinations. Webjet said the groups has been “consistently profitable over the past eight years”, recording an EBITDA of €2.6 million in the 2013 calendar year.

“With the outstanding progress of Webjet’s Lots of Hotels B2B business which commenced in February 2013, and this significant acquisition, Webjet is ideally placed to laterally and vertically extend B2B operations across a number of regions in parallel with the continued development and progress of Webjet’s Zuji acquisition throughout Asia,” said managing director John Guscic.


Shares down on open

Australian shares have opened lower this morning, despite stronger results from US and European markets overnight.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 5.2 points to 5506.2 points at 11.59am AEST. On Monday, the Dow Jones closed 111.61 points higher, up 0.66% to 17055.4 points.


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