Tripadvisor stock jumps after company forms special committee to explore sale

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Tripadvisor app

(Reuters) -Tripadvisor's shares jumped nearly 18% on Tuesday after the online travel agency said its board of directors formed a special committee to explore options, including a potential sale.

Tripadvisor said it hired investment bank Centerview Partners to advise the special committee.

Tripadvisor's controlling shareholder, Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, is one of media mogul John Malone's publicly traded vehicles. It holds a 56% stake in Tripadvisor and is controlled by Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, who is also Tripadvisor's chairman.

Liberty TripAdvisor has been approached by at least one bidder for its controlling stake in Tripadvisor, according to people familiar with the matter. The identity of that party could not be learned.

A deal for Liberty TripAdvisor could result in a transaction for Tripadvisor concurrently, according to a regulatory filing from the latter.

Tripadvisor's shares were up nearly 13% on Tuesday, giving the online travel company a market capitalization of about $3.5 billion.

"Liberty TripAdvisor is heavily indebted with a market cap of $89 million vs debt of $2.75 billion," Bernstein analyst Richard Clarke wrote in a note.

"Liberty TripAdvisor likely would need to tap Tripadvisor's balance sheet in some way to repay this debt," Clarke added.

Tripadvisor is scheduled to report earnings on Wednesday. Analysts, on average, expect revenue of $374.4 million and earnings of 22 cents per share, according to LSEG data.

(Reporting by Kannaki Deka in Bengaluru and Doyinsola Oladipo and Abigail Summerville in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Anil D'Silva)