American Express Co. said on Monday that it is selling half of its business-travel division for $900 million, creating a joint venture with a group led by Certares International Bank LLC, in a deal that allows American Express to keep a stake in corporate travel while freeing up cash to invest in faster-growing businesses.
The Certares group includes money from the Qatar Investment Authority, which is that country’s sovereign wealth fund, as well as investment funds managed by BlackRock and Macquarie Capital. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. American Express said it will use the money “to invest in growth initiatives.”
The business will still be run under the American Express Global Business Travel name. It currently employs 14,000 people, and manages some $19 billion in corporate travel spending, according to the company. The deal does not include American Express’s consumer travel business.
American Express said it will keep close ties between the new joint venture and other units, such as Global Corporate Payments, which issues its corporate credit card.
American Express had said in September that it was exploring such a sale, which it said at the time might bring in $700 million to $1 billion.
The new joint venture is to be run by Bill Glenn, who is currently president of Global Commercial Services at American Express. That division includes the corporate travel operation.
American Express shares had risen $1.09 to close at $91.26 before the deal was announced.