Skyscanner's CEO says it's still a British company despite selling to a larger Chinese firm

Gareth SkyscannerSkyscannerSkyscanner CEO Gareth Williams.

Skyscanner’s cofounder and CEO Gareth Williams has insisted that Skyscanner is still a UK company after it was bought by a larger Chinese firm on Thursday.

Founded in 2001, the travel search and comparison website announced that it had been acquired by Ctrip for $1.74 billion (£1.4 billion), shunning a rumoured IPO in the process.

“We’re still headquartered here, over 500 of our 800 staff are based in the UK, and we’ll continue to recruit heavily in the UK,” Williams told Business Insider. “We’re operationally independent — we’ve simply gained access to fantastic insights and technologies from a Chinese company, which will make this proudly British company even stronger and even more successful.”

When asked why an acquisition was more attractive than a stock market listing or a follow on funding round, Williams said: “The combination of operational independence Ctrip affords us was (and is) extremely attractive. This, combined with the incredible knowledge they bring to Skyscanner and their similar passion for solving the hard problem of travel search meant it felt like a natural progression for Skyscanner.”

The exit is being hailed by Skyscanner and technology investors on Twitter as a win for the UK tech ecosystem, but this is another example of a growing UK technology company being acquired by a larger foreign firm.

BBC News points out that Chancellor Philip Hammond mentioned in his Autumn statement earlier on Thursday that he planned to stop the problem of smaller British companies being acquired up by overseas firms. “I am taking a first step to tackle the long-standing problem of our fastest growing technology firms being snapped up by bigger companies, rather than growing to scale,” he said.

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