Company Quick10K Filing
despegar.com
20-F 2020-12-31 Filed 2021-04-30
20-F 2019-12-31 Filed 2020-04-10
20-F 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-04-26
20-F 2017-12-31 Filed 2018-04-24

DESP 20F Annual Report

Item 17 ☐ Item 18 ☐
Part I
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3. Key Information
Item 4. Information on The Company
Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees
Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions
Item 8. Financial Information
Item 9. The Offer and Listing
Item 10. Additional Information
Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 12. Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities
Part II
Item 13. Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies
Item 14. Material Modifications To The Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds
Item 15. Controls and Procedures
Item 16. [Reserved]
Item 16A. Audit Committee Financial Expert
Item 16B. Code of Ethics
Item 16C. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Item 16D. Exemptions From The Listing Standards for Audit Committees
Item 16E. Purchases of Equity Securities By The Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
Item 16F. Change in Registrant's Certifying Accountant
Item 16G. Corporate Governance
Item 16H. Mine Safety Disclosure
Part III
Item 17. Financial Statements
Item 18. Financial Statements
Item 19. Exhibits
EX-8.1 d534838dex81.htm
EX-12.1 d534838dex121.htm
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EX-13.1 d534838dex131.htm
EX-13.2 d534838dex132.htm

despegar.com Earnings 2017-12-31

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow

20-F 1 d534838d20f.htm 20-F 20-F
Table of Contents

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM 20-F

 

 

 

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017

OR

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

 

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Commission file number 001-38209

 

 

Despegar.com, Corp.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its charter)

 

 

N/A

(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)

British Virgin Islands

(Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)

Juana Manso 999

Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina C1107CBR

Telephone: +54 11 4894-3500

(Address of principal executive offices)

Juan Pablo Alvarado, General Counsel

Juana Manso 999

Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina C1107CBR

Telephone: +54 11 4894-3500

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

  

Name of each exchange on which registered

Ordinary Shares, no par value    The New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:

None

 

 

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report:

 

At December 31, 2017

  

69,097,610 ordinary shares

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ☐    No  ☒

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.    Yes  ☐    No  ☒

Note- Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  ☒    No  ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes  ☒    No  ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or an emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer      Accelerated filer  
Non-accelerated filer      Emerging growth company  

If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  ☒

 

The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP  ☒    International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board  ☐    Other  ☐

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.

Item 17  ☐    Item 18  ☐

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes  ☐    No  ☒

 

 

 


Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

         Page  

PART I INTRODUCTION

     1  

ITEM 1.

  IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS      3  

ITEM 2.

  OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE      3  

ITEM 3.

  KEY INFORMATION      3  

A.

  Selected Financial Data      3  

B.

  Capitalization and Indebtedness      6  

C.

  Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds      6  

D.

  Risk Factors      6  

ITEM 4.

  INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY      36  

A.

  History and Development of the Company      36  

B.

  Business Overview      37  

C.

  Organizational Structure      57  

D.

  Property, Plants and Equipment      58  

ITEM 4A.

  UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS      58  

ITEM 5.

  OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS      58  

A.

  Operating Results      58  

B.

  Liquidity and Capital Resources      74  

C.

  Research and Development, Patents and Licenses      76  

D.

  Trend Information      76  

E.

  Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements      77  

F.

  Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations      77  

G.

  Safe Harbor      78  

ITEM 6.

  DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES      78  

A.

  Directors and Senior Management      78  

B.

  Compensation      81  

C.

  Board Practices      83  

D.

  Employees      84  

E.

  Share Ownership      84  

ITEM 7.

  MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS      86  

A.

  Major Shareholders      86  

B.

  Related Party Transactions      87  

C.

  Interests of Experts and Counsel      91  

ITEM 8.

  FINANCIAL INFORMATION      92  

A.

  Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information      92  

B.

  Significant Changes      93  

ITEM 9.

  THE OFFER AND LISTING      93  

 

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A.

  Offer and Listing Details      93  

B.

  Plan of Distribution      93  

C.

  Markets      93  

D.

  Selling Shareholders      93  

E.

  Dilution      93  

F.

  Expenses of the Issue      93  

ITEM 10.

  ADDITIONAL INFORMATION      94  

A.

  Share Capital      94  

B.

  Memorandum and Articles of Association      94  

C.

  Material Contracts      97  

D.

  Exchange Controls      97  

E.

  Taxation      100  

F.

  Dividends and Paying Agents      105  

G.

  Statement by Experts      105  

H.

  Documents on Display      105  

I.

  Subsidiary Information      105  

ITEM 11.

  QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK      105  

ITEM 12.

  DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES      106  

A.

  Debt Securities      106  

B.

  Warrants and Rights      106  

C.

  Other Securities      106  

D.

  American Depositary Shares      106  

PART II

       107  

ITEM 13.

  DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES      107  

ITEM 14.

  MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS      107  

ITEM 15.

  CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES      107  

A.

  Disclosure Controls and Procedures      107  

B.

  Management’s Annual Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting      108  

C.

  Attestation Report of the Registered Public Accounting Firm      108  

D.

  Changes in Internal Control Over Financial Reporting      108  

ITEM 16.

  [RESERVED]      108  

ITEM 16A.

  AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT      108  

ITEM 16B.

  CODE OF ETHICS      108  

ITEM 16C.

  PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES      108  

ITEM 16D.

  EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES      109  

ITEM 16E.

  PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS      109  

ITEM 16F.

  CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT      109  

ITEM 16G.

  CORPORATE GOVERNANCE      109  

 

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ITEM 16H.

  MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE      116  

PART III

       116  

ITEM 17.

  FINANCIAL STATEMENTS      116  

ITEM 18.

  FINANCIAL STATEMENTS      116  

ITEM 19.

  EXHIBITS      117  

 

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PART I

INTRODUCTION

Unless the context suggests otherwise, references in this Annual Report to “Despegar,” the “Company,” “we” “us” and “our” are to Despegar.com, Corp., a business company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (“BVI”), and its consolidated subsidiaries. Unless the context suggests otherwise, references to “Latin America” are to South America, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (except in the case of certain industry information from Euromonitor travel research for Latin America; as set forth below).

We were formed as a new business company in BVI on February 10, 2017. On May 3, 2017, the stockholders of our predecessor, Decolar.com, Inc., a Delaware corporation, exchanged their shares of Decolar.com, Inc. for ordinary shares of Despegar.com, Corp. to create a new BVI holding company. Following the exchange, our shareholders own shares of Despegar.com, Corp. and Decolar.com, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Despegar.com, Corp. The audited consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, and for the three years ended December 31, 2017 to the extent related to the events and periods prior to May 3, 2017, included in this Annual Report are the consolidated financial statements of Decolar.com, Inc., which is our predecessor for accounting purposes, and other information contained in this Annual Report related to events and periods prior to May 3, 2017 is based on Decolar.com, Inc.

Financial Statements

The financial information contained in this Annual Report derives from our audited consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2017 and 2016 and for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015. Our consolidated financial statements are prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“U.S. GAAP”) and presented in dollars.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures

This Annual Report includes certain references to Adjusted EBITDA, a non-GAAP financial measure. We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income / (loss) exclusive of financial income / (expense), income tax, depreciation, amortization and share-based compensation. See “Item 3. Key Information —A. Selected Financial Data — Other Financial and Operating Data” for a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income / (loss). Adjusted EBITDA is not prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Accordingly, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on this information and should note that Adjusted EBITDA, as calculated by us, may differ materially from similarly titled measures reported by other companies, including our competitors.

Market Data

This Annual Report includes industry, market and competitive position data and forecasts that we have derived from independent consultant reports, publicly available information, industry publications, official government information and other third-party sources, including Euromonitor International, and GSM Association, as well as our internal data and estimates. Independent consultant reports, industry publications and other published sources generally indicate that the information contained therein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Although we believe that this information is reliable, the information has not been independently verified by us.

Certain data included in this Annual Report related to the Latin American travel industry and the Latin American online travel market includes the purchase of hotel and other travel products (such as airlines, car rentals, lodging and attractions) by inbound travelers traveling to Latin America, as well as corporate travel. Our customer base, however, is primarily comprised of consumers from Latin America traveling for leisure domestically within their own country of origin, to other countries in the Latin American region, and outside of Latin America. Additionally, Euromonitor travel research for Latin America only includes the following countries: Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Ecuador. Market data related solely to the travel trends of Latin American consumers is limited. As a result, certain market data included in this Annual Report is being provided to investors to give a general sense of the trends of our industry but such market data does not capture the travel trends of only our targeted customers. Accordingly, investors should not place undue reliance on the market information in this Annual Report.

 

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Information sourced to Euromonitor is from independent industry research carried out by Euromonitor International Limited as part of its annual Passport research. Euromonitor makes no warranties about the fitness of this intelligence for investment decisions.

Certain Operating Measures

This Annual Report includes certain references to number of transactions and gross bookings, both operating measures. Number of transactions is the total number of customer orders completed on our platform during a given period. Gross bookings is the aggregate purchase price of all travel products booked by our customers through our platform during a given period. For more information, see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results — Key Business Metrics.”

Currency Presentation

In this Annual Report, references to “dollars” and “$” are to the currency of the United States, references to “Brazilian real,” “Brazilian reais” and “R$” are to the currency of Brazil and references to “Argentine pesos” and “AR$” are to the currency of Argentina. See “Item 10. Additional Information — Exchange Controls” for information regarding historical exchange rates of Brazilian reais and Argentine pesos to dollars.

Rounding

Certain figures included in this Annual Report have been subject to rounding adjustments. Accordingly, figures shown as totals in certain tables may not be exact arithmetic aggregations or percentages of the figures that precede them.

Trademarks

Our key trademarks are “Despegar.com,” “Decolar.com” and “Decolar.com.br.” Other trademarks or service marks appearing in this Annual Report are the property of their respective holders. Solely for the convenience of the reader, we refer to our brands in this Annual Report without the ® symbol, but these references are not intended to indicate in any way that we will not assert our rights to these brands to the fullest extent permitted by law.

Forward-Looking Statements

This Annual Report includes forward-looking statements, principally under the captions “Item 3. Key Information,” “Item 4. Information on the Company––Business Overview” and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects.” We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current beliefs, expectations and projections about future events and financial trends affecting our business and our market. Many important factors, in addition to those discussed elsewhere in this Annual Report, could cause our actual results to differ substantially from those anticipated in our forward-looking statements, including:

 

    political, social and macroeconomic conditions in Latin America;

 

    currency exchange rates and inflation;

 

    current competition and the emergence of new market participants in our industry;

 

    government regulation;

 

    our expectations regarding the continued growth of internet usage and e-commerce in Latin America;

 

    failure to maintain and enhance our brand recognition;

 

    our ability to maintain and expand our supplier relationships;

 

    our reliance on technology;

 

    the growth in the usage of mobile devices and our ability to successfully monetize this usage;

 

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    our ability to attract, train and retain executives and other qualified employees;

 

    our ability to successfully implement our growth strategies; and

 

    the other factors discussed under the caption “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” in this Annual Report.

We operate in a competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks and uncertainties emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all risks and uncertainties that could have an impact on the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report. The words “believe,” “may,” “should,” “aim,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “will,” “expect” and similar words are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include information concerning our possible or assumed future results of operations, business strategies, capital expenditures, financing plans, competitive position, industry environment, potential growth opportunities, the effects of future regulation and the effects of competition. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update publicly or to revise any forward-looking statements after we distribute this Annual Report because of new information, future events or other factors. In light of the risks and uncertainties described above, the future events and circumstances discussed in this Annual Report might not occur or come into existence and forward-looking statements are thus not guarantees of future performance. Considering these limitations, you should not make any investment decision in reliance on forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report.

 

ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE

Not applicable.

 

ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION

 

A. Selected Financial Data

The following selected historical consolidated financial and other operating data should be read together with “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” and our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.

We derived the selected income statement, balance sheet and cash flow data as of December 31, 2017 and 2016 and for the three years ended December 31, 2017 from our audited consolidated financial statements which are included elsewhere in this Annual Report. We derived the selected balance sheet data as of December 31, 2015 from our audited consolidated financial statements which are not included in this Annual Report. Our consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP in dollars. Our historical results do not necessarily indicate results expected for any future period.

Selected Income Statement Data

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016      2015  
     (in thousands, except per share data)  

Revenue

        

Air

   $ 241,015      $ 205,721      $ 219,817  

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products

     282,925        205,441        201,894  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total revenue

     523,940        411,162        421,711  

Cost of revenue

     142,479        126,675        154,213  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Gross profit

     381,461        284,487        267,498  

Operating expenses

        

Selling and marketing

     166,288        121,466        170,149  

General and administrative

     72,626        64,683        78,181  

Technology and product development

     71,308        63,251        73,535  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

     310,222        249,400        321,865  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016      2015  
     (in thousands, except per share data)  

Operating income / (loss)

     71,239        35,087        (54,367

Financial income

     2,389        8,327        10,797  

Financial expense

     (19,268      (15,079      (23,702
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Income / (loss) before income taxes

     54,360        28,335        (67,272

Income tax expense

     11,994        10,538        18,004  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net income / (loss)

   $ 42,366      $ 17,797      $ (85,276
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Earnings / (loss) per share:

        

Basic

     0.69        0.30        (1.49
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Diluted

     0.69        0.30        (1.49
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Weighted average shares outstanding:

        

Basic

     61,457        58,518        57,078  

Diluted

     61,548        58,609        57,186  

Selected Balance Sheet Data

 

     As of December 31,  
     2017      2016      2015  
     (in thousands, except share data)  

Cash and cash equivalents(1)

   $ 371,013      $ 75,968      $ 102,116  

Total assets

     738,694        353,710        348,215  

Total liabilities

     520,736        435,973        431,348  

Total shareholders’ equity/(deficit) attributable to Despegar

     217,958        (82,263      (83,133

Common stock

     253,535        6        6  

Number of Shares

     69,097        58,518        58,518  

 

(1) Excludes restricted cash and cash equivalents. See note 4 of our audited consolidated financial statements.

Other Financial and Operating Data

We regularly review the following key metrics to evaluate our business, measure our performance, identify trends in our business, prepare financial projections and make strategic decisions.

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016      2015  
     (in thousands)  

Operational

  

Number of transactions

        

By country

        

Brazil

     3,713        2,924        3,620  

Argentina

     2,264        1,798        1,787  

Other

     3,079        2,490        2,298  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

     9,056        7,212        7,705  

By segment

        

Air

     5,285        4,250        4,385  

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products

     3,771        2,963        3,320  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

     9,056        7,212        7,705  

Gross bookings

   $ 4,454,548      $ 3,260,234      $ 3,596,260  

Financial

        

Adjusted EBITDA (unaudited)

   $ 89,354      $ 48,585      $ (39,067

 

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Number of Transactions

The number of transactions for a period is an operating measure that represents the total number of customer orders completed on our platform in such period. We monitor the total number of transactions, as well as the number of transactions in each of our segments and the number of transactions with customers in each of Brazil, Argentina and the other countries in which we operate. The number of transactions is an important metric because it is an indicator of the level of engagement with our customers and the scale of our business from period to period but, unlike gross bookings and our financial metrics, the number of transactions is independent of the average selling price of each transaction, which can be significantly influenced by fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

Gross Bookings

Gross bookings is an operating measure that represents the aggregate purchase price of all travel products booked by our customers through our platform during a given period. We generate substantially all of our revenue from commissions and other incentive payments paid by our suppliers and service fees paid by our customers for transactions through our platform, and, as a result, we monitor gross bookings as an important indicator of our ability to generate revenue.

Adjusted EBITDA

We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income / (loss) exclusive of financial income / (expense), income tax, depreciation, amortization and share-based compensation.

We believe that Adjusted EBITDA, a non-GAAP financial measure, provides useful supplemental information to investors about us and our results. Adjusted EBITDA is among the measures used by our management team to evaluate our financial and operating performance and make day-to-day financial and operating decisions. In addition, Adjusted EBITDA is frequently used by securities analysts, investors and other parties to evaluate companies in the online travel industry. We also believe that Adjusted EBITDA is helpful to investors because it provides additional information about trends in our core operating performance prior to considering the impact of capital structure, depreciation, amortization, and taxation on our results.

Adjusted EBITDA should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for other measures of financial performance reported in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Adjusted EBITDA has limitations as an analytical tool, including:

 

    Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect changes in, including cash requirements for, our working capital needs or contractual commitments;

 

    Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect our financial expenses, or the cash requirements to service interest or principal payments on our indebtedness, or interest income or other financial income;

 

    Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect our income tax expense or the cash requirements to pay our income taxes;

 

    although depreciation and amortization are non-cash charges, the assets being depreciated or amortized often will need to be replaced in the future, and Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect any cash requirements for these replacements;

 

    although share-based compensation is a non-cash charge, Adjusted EBITDA does not consider the potentially dilutive impact of share-based compensation; and

 

    other companies may calculate Adjusted EBITDA differently, limiting its usefulness as a comparative measure.

 

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We compensate for the inherent limitations associated with using Adjusted EBITDA through disclosure of these limitations, presentation of our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP and reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP measure, net income / (loss).

The table below provides a reconciliation of our net income / (loss) to Adjusted EBITDA:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016      2015  
     (in thousands)  

Net income / (loss)

   $ 42,366      $ 17,797      $ (85,276

Add (deduct):

        

Financial expense / (income), net

     17,879        6,752        12,905  

Income tax expense

     11,994        10,538        18,004  

Depreciation expense

     5,075        5,089        5,152  

Amortization of intangible assets

     8,751        7,835        9,287  

Share-based compensation expense

     4,289        574        861  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Adjusted EBITDA

   $ 89,354      $ 48,585      $ (39,067
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

B. Capitalization and Indebtedness

Not applicable.

 

C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

Not applicable.

 

D. Risk Factors

You should carefully consider the risks described below, in addition to the other information contained in this Annual Report. We also may face additional risks and uncertainties that are not presently known to us, or that as of the date of this Annual Report we deem immaterial, which may impair our business, financial condition and results of operations. If any of these events occur, the trading price of our ordinary shares could decline. In general, you take more risk when you invest in the securities of issuers with operations in emerging markets such as Latin American countries than when you invest in the securities of issuers in the United States and other developed markets. The information in this Risk Factors section includes forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of numerous factors, including those described in “Forward-Looking Statements.”

Risks Related to Our Business

We are subject to the risks generally associated with doing business in Latin America.

Our business serves the Latin American travel industry and substantially all of our revenue is derived in Latin American countries. Substantially all of our operations are located in Latin America. Moreover, we have significant revenue from Brazil and Argentina as well as other Latin American countries: in 2017, Brazil accounted for 41% of our transactions and Argentina accounted for 25%. As a result, we are subject to the risks generally associated with doing business in the region, including:

 

    political, social and macroeconomic instability;

 

    cycles of severe economic downturns;

 

    currency devaluations and fluctuations;

 

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    periods of high inflation;

 

    availability, quality and level of usage of the internet and e-commerce;

 

    high levels of credit risk, fraud and lack of secure payment methods;

 

    uncertainty or changes in governmental regulation, including applicable to travel services operations and internet and e-commerce services;

 

    uncertainty or changes in tax laws and regulations;

 

    limited access to financing, both for companies and for consumers;

 

    exchange and capital controls;

 

    limited infrastructure, including in the travel and technology sectors;

 

    adverse labor conditions and difficulties in hiring, training and retaining qualified personnel;

 

    the challenges of doing business across a region with multiple languages, different currencies and regulatory regimes that varies from country to country; and

 

    the impact of adverse global conditions in the region.

Any of these risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. For more information, see “—Risks Related to Latin America.”

General declines or disruptions in the travel industry may adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Our business is significantly affected by the trends that occur in the travel industry. As the travel industry is highly sensitive to business and personal discretionary spending levels, it tends to decline during general economic downturns. Trends or events that tend to reduce travel and are likely to reduce our revenue include:

 

    terrorist attacks or threats of terrorist attacks or wars;

 

    fluctuations in currency exchange rates;

 

    health-related risks, such as an outbreak of the Zika virus, H1N1 influenza, Ebola virus, yellow fever, avian flu or any other serious contagious diseases;

 

    increased prices in the airline ticketing, hotel, or other travel-related sectors;

 

    significant changes in oil prices;

 

    travel-related strikes or labor unrest, bankruptcies or liquidations;

 

    travel-related accidents or the grounding of aircraft due to safety concerns;

 

    political unrest;

 

    high levels of crime;

 

    natural disasters or severe weather conditions, including volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, flooding or earthquakes;

 

    changes in immigration policy; and

 

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    travel restrictions or other security procedures implemented in connection with any major events, particularly those that affect travel by Latin Americans within their respective countries, across the region and outbound from the region to the rest of the world.

We could be severely and adversely affected by declines or disruptions in the travel industry and, in many cases, have little or no control over the occurrence of such events. Such events could result in a decrease in demand for our travel services. Any decrease in demand, depending on the scope and duration, could significantly and adversely affect our business and financial performance over the short and long term.

Our business and results of operations may be adversely affected by macroeconomic conditions.

Consumer purchases of discretionary items generally decline during periods of recession and other periods in which disposable income is adversely affected. As a substantial portion of travel expenditure, for both business and leisure, is discretionary, the travel industry tends to experience weak or reduced demand during economic downturns.

General adverse economic conditions, including the possibility of recessionary conditions in Latin America or a worldwide economic slowdown, would adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations. Past weakness and uncertainty in the global economy and in Latin America have negatively impacted consumer spending patterns and demand for travel services and may continue to do so in the future. For example, consumer spending patterns and demand for travel services were negatively impacted by the 2008-2009 global financial crisis that arose in the United States, as well as the recession in Brazil of 2015-2016 and the Argentine financial crisis of 2001-2002 and recession of 2016.

As an intermediary in the travel industry, a significant portion of our revenue is affected by prices charged by our travel suppliers. During periods of poor economic conditions, airlines and hotels tend to reduce rates or offer discounted sales to stimulate demand, thereby reducing our commission-based income. A slowdown in economic conditions may also result in a decrease in transaction volumes and adversely affect our revenue, including our consumer fee-based income. It is difficult to predict the effects of the uncertainty in global economic conditions. If economic conditions decline globally or in Latin America, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely impacted.

We are exposed to fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

Because we conduct our business outside the United States and receive almost all of our revenue in currencies other than the dollar, but report our results in dollars, we face exposure to adverse movements in currency exchange rates. The currencies of certain countries where we operate, including Brazil and Argentina, have historically experienced significant devaluations. For example, in December 2015, the Argentine government let the Argentine peso float freely, after several years of controlling foreign exchange rates, resulting in a significant devaluation. The results of operations in the countries where we operate are exposed to foreign exchange rate fluctuations as the financial results of the applicable subsidiaries are translated from the local currency into dollars upon consolidation. If the dollar weakens against foreign currencies, the translation of these foreign-currency-denominated transactions will typically result in increased revenue and operating expenses, and our revenue and operating expenses will typically decrease if the dollar strengthens. Moreover, if the dollar strengthens against the foreign currencies of countries in which we operate, the purchasing power of our customers from those countries could be negatively affected by potentially increased prices in local currencies, and we could experience a reduction in the demand for our travel services.

Additionally, foreign exchange exposure also arises from pre-pay transactions, where we accept upfront payments for bookings in the customer’s home currency, but payment to the hotel is not due until after the customer checks out, and is paid by us in the hotel’s home currency. We are therefore exposed to foreign exchange risk between the time of the initial reservation and the time when the hotel is paid.

We minimize our foreign currency exposures by managing natural hedges, netting our current assets and current liabilities in similarly denominated foreign currencies, and managing short term loans and investments for hedging purposes. Additionally, from time to time we enter into derivative transactions. However, depending on the size of the exposures and the relative movements of exchange rates, if we choose not to hedge or fail to hedge effectively our exposure, we could experience a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial statements and financial condition.

 

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We have incurred operating losses in the past and may experience earnings declines or net losses in the future.

We have incurred operating losses in the past, though in the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 we had positive net income. We cannot assure you that we can sustain profitability or avoid net losses in the future. Our ability to remain profitable depends on various factors, including our ability to generate additional transaction volume and revenue and control our costs and expenses. We may incur significant losses in the future for a number of reasons, including the other risks described in this Annual Report, and we may further encounter unforeseen expenses, difficulties, complications, delays and other unknown events. If our costs and expenses increase at a more rapid rate than our revenue, we may not be able to sustain profitability and may incur losses.

If we are unable to maintain or increase consumer traffic to our sites and our conversion rates, our business and results of operations would be harmed.

Our ability to generate revenue depends, in part, on our ability to attract consumers to our platform. If we fail to maintain or increase consumer traffic and our conversion rates, our ability to grow our revenue could be negatively affected. We expect that our efforts to maintain or increase traffic are likely to include, among other things, significant increases to our marketing expenditures. We cannot assure you that any increases in our expenses will be successful in generating additional consumer traffic.

There are many factors that could negatively affect user retention, growth, and engagement, including if:

 

    we fail to offer compelling products;

 

    users increasingly engage with competing products instead of ours;

 

    we fail to introduce new and exciting products and services or those we introduce are poorly received;

 

    our websites or mobile apps fail to operate effectively on the iOS and Android mobile operating systems;

 

    we do not provide a compelling user experience;

 

    we are unable to combat spam or other hostile or inappropriate usage on our products, or if our anti-fraud measures are too conservative and we reject too many bona fide transactions;

 

    there are changes in user sentiment about the quality or usefulness of our existing products;

 

    there are concerns about the privacy implications, safety, or security of our products;

 

    our suppliers decide to discontinue the offering of their products through our platform;

 

    technical or other problems frustrate the user experience, particularly if those problems prevent us from delivering our products in a fast and reliable manner;

 

    we fail to provide adequate service to our customers and suppliers;

 

    we or other companies in our industry are the subject of adverse media reports or other negative publicity; or

 

    we do not maintain our brand image or our reputation is damaged.

Any decrease to user retention, growth, or engagement could render our products less attractive to consumers and would seriously harm our business.

 

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We operate in a highly competitive and evolving market, and pressure from existing and new companies may adversely affect our business and results of operations.

The travel market in Latin America and worldwide is intensely competitive and rapidly evolving. Factors affecting our competitive success include, among other things, price, availability and breadth of choice of travel services and products, brand recognition, customer service, fees charged to travelers, ease of use, accessibility, consumer payment options and reliability. We currently compete with both established and emerging providers of travel services and products, including regional offline travel agency chains and tour operators, global OTAs with presence in Latin America and smaller, country-specific online and offline travel agencies and tour operators. In addition, our customers have the option to book travel directly with airlines, hotels and other travel service providers who are increasingly focused on further refining their online offerings. Large, established internet search engines have also launched applications offering travel itineraries in destinations around the world, and meta-search companies who can aggregate travel search results also compete against us for customers. In addition, we face price competition from new entrants that offer discounted rates and other incentives from time to time, as well as social media channels that market travel products and experiences. Some of our competitors have significantly greater financial and other resources than us. From time to time we may be required to reduce service fees and revenue margins in order to compete effectively and maintain or gain customers, brand awareness and supplier relationships.

Further, we may also face increased competition from new entrants in our industry. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully compete against existing or new competitors. If we are not able to compete effectively, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.

Some travel suppliers are seeking to decrease their reliance on distribution intermediaries like us by promoting direct distribution channels. Many airlines, hotels, car rental companies and tour operators have call centers and have established their own travel distribution websites and mobile applications. From time to time, travel suppliers offer advantages, such as bonus loyalty awards and lower transaction fees or discounted prices, when their services and products are purchased from supplier-related channels. We also compete with competitors which may offer less content, functionality and marketing reach but at a relatively lower cost to suppliers. If our access to supplier-provided content or features were to be diminished either relative to our competitors or in absolute terms or if we are unable to compete effectively with travel supplier-related channels or other competitors, our business could be materially and adversely affected.

If we are unable to maintain existing, and establish new, arrangements with travel suppliers, our business may be adversely affected.

Our business is dependent on our ability to maintain our relationships and arrangements with existing suppliers, such as airlines, global distribution system (GDS), service providers, hotels, hotel consolidators and destination services companies, car rental companies, bus operators, cruise companies and travel assistance providers, as well as our ability to establish and maintain relationships with new travel suppliers. In addition, the hotel and other lodging products that we offer through our platform for all countries outside Latin America are provided to us exclusively by affiliates of Expedia and Expedia is the preferred provider to us of hotel and other lodging products in Latin America pursuant to a lodging outsourcing agreement (the “Expedia Outsourcing Agreement”). In the event the Expedia Outsourcing Agreement is terminated, we may be required to pay a $125.0 million termination fee. For more information on our relationships with Expedia, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions — B. Related Party — Relationship with Expedia.” Adverse changes in key arrangements with our suppliers, including an inability of any key travel supplier to fulfill its payment obligation to us in a timely manner, increasing industry consolidation or our inability to enter into or renew arrangements with these parties on favorable terms, if at all, could reduce the amount, quality, pricing and breadth of the travel services and products that we are able to offer, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. For example, American Airlines discontinued our access to its inventory from July 2013 to March 2016, until a mutually satisfactory settlement was reached and American Airlines resumed supplying us with airline tickets.

In addition, adverse economic developments affecting the travel industry could also adversely impact our ability to maintain our existing relationships and arrangements with one or more of our suppliers. We cannot assure you that our agreements or arrangements with our travel suppliers or travel-related service providers will continue or that our travel suppliers or travel-related service providers will not further reduce commissions, terminate our contracts, make their products or services unavailable to us as part of exclusive arrangements with our competitors or default on or dispute their payment or other obligations towards us, any of which could

 

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reduce our revenue and margins or may require us to initiate legal or arbitral proceedings to enforce their contractual payment obligations, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We rely on the value of our brands, and any failure to maintain or enhance consumer awareness of our brands could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

We believe continued investment in our brand is critical to retain and expand our business. We believe that our brands are well recognized in the Latin American travel market. We have invested in developing and promoting our brand since our inception and expect to continue to spend on maintaining the value of our brands to enable us to compete against increased spending by competitors and to allow us to expand into new services or increase our penetration in certain markets where our brands are less well known.

We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully maintain or enhance consumer awareness of our brands. Even if we are successful in our branding efforts, such efforts may not be cost-effective. Our marketing costs may also increase as a result of inflation in media pricing. If we are unable to maintain or enhance consumer awareness of our brands and generate demand in a cost-effective manner, it would negatively impact our ability to compete in the travel industry and would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We rely on information technology to operate our business and maintain our competitiveness, and any failure to adapt to technological developments or industry trends could adversely affect our business.

We depend on the use of sophisticated information technology and systems, for search and reservation for airline tickets, hotels, and any of the other products that we offer on our platform, as well as payments, refunds, customer relationship management, communications and administration. As our operations grow in both size and scope, we must continuously improve and upgrade our systems and infrastructure to improve services, features and functionality, while maintaining the reliability and integrity of our systems and infrastructure in a cost-effective manner. Our future success also depends on our ability to upgrade our services and infrastructure ahead of rapidly evolving consumer demands while continuing to improve the performance, features and reliability of our service in response to competitive offerings.

We may not be able to maintain or replace our existing systems or introduce new technologies and systems as quickly as our competitors, in a cost-effective manner or at all. We may also be unable to devote adequate financial resources to develop or acquire new technologies and systems in the future.

We may not be able to use new technologies effectively, or we may fail to adapt our websites, mobile apps, transaction processing systems and network infrastructure to meet consumer requirements or emerging industry standards, comply with government regulation or prevent fraud or security breaches. If we face material delays in introducing new or enhanced solutions, our customers may forego the use of our services in favor of those of our competitors. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Some of our airline suppliers (including our GDS service providers) may reduce or eliminate the commission and other compensation they pay to us for the sale of airline tickets and this could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

In our air business, we generate revenue through commissions and incentive payments from airline suppliers (including our GDS service providers) and service fees charged to our customers. Our airline suppliers (including our GDS service providers) may reduce or eliminate the commissions, incentive payments or other compensation they pay to us. To the extent any of our airline suppliers (including our GDS service providers) reduce or eliminate the commissions, incentive payments or other compensation they pay to us, our revenue may be reduced unless we are able to adequately mitigate such reduction by increasing the service fee we charge to our customers or increasing our transaction volume in a sustainable manner. However, any increase in service fees may also result in a loss of potential customers. In addition, our arrangement with the airlines that supply airline tickets to us may limit the amount of service fee that we are able to charge our customers. Our business would also be negatively impacted if competition or regulation in the Latin American travel industry causes us to have to reduce or eliminate our service fees.

 

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Our business and results of operations could be adversely affected if one or more of our major travel suppliers suffers a deterioration in its financial condition or restructures its operations.

As we are an intermediary in the travel industry, a substantial portion of our revenue is affected by the prices charged by our suppliers, including airlines, GDS service providers, hotels, destination service providers, car rental suppliers, tour operators, supply aggregators (such as other OTAs), cruise operators, bus service providers and travel assistance providers, and the volume of products offered by our suppliers. As a result, if one or more of our major suppliers suffers a deterioration in its financial condition or restructures its operations, it could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Accordingly, our business may be negatively affected by adverse changes in the markets in which our suppliers operate.

In particular, as a substantial portion of our revenue depends on our sales of airline flights, we could be adversely affected by changes in the airline industry, including consolidation or bankruptcies and liquidations, and in many cases, we will have no control over such changes. Any consolidation in the airline industry in the future would result in fewer airlines with potentially more bargaining power with respect to the commissions and incentive payments or other fees they pay to intermediaries. Events or weaknesses specific to the airline industry that could negatively affect our business include air fare fluctuations, airport, airspace and landing fee increases, seat capacity constraints, removal of destinations or flight routes, travel-related strikes or labor unrest, imposition of taxes or surcharges by regulatory authorities and fuel price volatility. While decreases in prices for flights and other travel products generally increase demand, such price decreases generally also have a negative effect on the commissions we earn, particularly in our non-flight business, which is more dependent on commissions than our flight business. The overall effect of a price increase or decrease is therefore uncertain.

In the past several years, several major airlines have filed for bankruptcy, recently exited bankruptcy, or discussed publicly the risk of bankruptcy. In addition, some of these airlines have merged, or discussed merging, with other airlines. If one of our major airline suppliers merges or consolidates with, or is acquired by, another company that either does not participate in the GDS systems we use, or that participates in such systems but at substantially lower levels, the surviving company may elect not to make supply available to us or may elect to do so at lower levels than the previous supplier. Similarly, in the event that one of our major airline suppliers voluntarily or involuntarily declares bankruptcy and is subsequently unable to successfully emerge from bankruptcy, and we are unable to replace such supplier, our business would be adversely affected. Further consolidation of one or more of the major airlines could result in further capacity reductions, a reduction in the number of airline tickets available for booking on our website and increased air fares, which may have a negative impact on demand for travel products.

We are subject to payments-related fraud risks.

We are held liable for accepting fraudulent bookings on our platform and other bookings for which payment is successfully disputed by the cardholder, both of which lead to the reversal of payments received by us for such bookings (referred to as a “chargeback”). Our results of operations may be negatively affected by our acceptance of fraudulent bookings made using credit cards, as occurred in 2015, when there was an increase in fraud in the Latin American travel industry, particularly in Brazil. In the fourth quarter of 2015, we experienced an increase in attempted fraudulent transactions in Brazil, resulting in both the first quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2015 in an increase in fraud expense in the form of chargebacks. We also experienced a decrease in gross bookings in both quarters, as we imposed more restrictive anti-fraud protocol in response to the uptick in fraudulent transactions that resulted in more rejections of legitimate transactions. Our ability to detect and combat fraud, which has become increasingly common and sophisticated, may be negatively impacted by the adoption of new payment methods, the emergence and innovation of new technology platforms, including smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, and our expansion, including into geographies with a history of elevated fraudulent activity. If we are unable to effectively combat fraud on our platform or if we otherwise experience increased levels of chargebacks, our results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

We have agreements with companies that process customer credit and debit card transactions for the facilitation of customer bookings of travel services from our travel suppliers. These agreements allow these processing companies, under certain conditions, to hold an amount of our cash (referred to as a “holdback”) or require us to otherwise post security equal to a portion of bookings that have been processed by such companies. These processing companies may be entitled to a holdback or suspension of processing services upon the occurrence of specified events, including material adverse changes in our financial condition. Moreover, there can be no assurances that the rates we pay for the processing of customer credit and debit card transactions will not increase, which could reduce our revenue thereby adversely affecting our business and financial performance.

 

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Moreover, credit card networks, such as Visa and MasterCard, have adopted rules and regulations that apply to all merchants which process and accept credit cards and include the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (“PCI DSS”). Under these rules, we are required to adopt and implement internal controls over the use, storage and security of card data. We are currently PCI DSS certified and in compliance with PCI DSS. We assess our compliance with PCI DSS rules on a periodic basis and make necessary improvements to our internal controls as needed. Failure to comply may prevent us from processing or accepting credit cards.

In addition, when onboarding suppliers to our platform, we may fail to identify falsified or stolen supplier credentials, which may result in fraudulent bookings or unauthorized access to personal or confidential information of users of our websites and mobile applications. A fraudulent supplier scheme could also result in negative publicity and damage to our reputation, and could cause users of our websites and mobile applications to lose confidence in the quality of our services. Any of these events would have a negative effect on the value of our brands, which could have an adverse impact on our financial performance.

Any system interruption, security breaches or lack of sufficient redundancy in our information systems may harm our businesses.

We rely on information technology systems, including the internet and third-party hosted services, to support a variety of business processes including booking transactions, and activities and to store sensitive data, including our proprietary business information and that of our suppliers, personally identifiable information and other information of our customers and employees and data with respect to invoicing and the collection of payments, accounting and procurement activities. In addition, we rely on our information technology systems to process financial information and results of operations for internal reporting purposes and to comply with financial reporting, legal, and tax requirements. The risk of a cybersecurity-related attack, intrusion, or disruption, including by criminal organizations, hacktivists, foreign governments, and terrorists, is persistent. We have experienced and may in the future experience system interruptions that make some or all of these systems unavailable or prevent us from efficiently fulfilling orders or providing services to third parties. Interruptions of this nature could include security intrusions and attacks on our systems for fraud or service interruption. Significant interruptions, outages or delays in our internal systems, or systems of third parties that we rely upon—including multiple co-location providers for data centers, cloud computing providers for application hosting, and network access providers—and network access, or deterioration in the performance of such systems, would impair our ability to process transactions, decrease our quality of service that we can offer to our customers, damage our reputation and brands, increase our costs and/or cause losses.

Potential security breaches to our systems or the systems of our service providers, whether resulting from internal or external sources, could significantly harm our business. We devote significant resources to network security, monitoring and testing, employee training, and other security measures, but we cannot assure you that these measures will prevent all possible security breaches or attacks. A party, whether internal or external, that is able to circumvent our security systems could misappropriate customer or employee information, proprietary information or other business and financial data or cause significant interruptions in our operations. We may need to expend significant resources to protect against security breaches or to address problems caused by breaches, and reductions in website availability could cause a loss of substantial business volume during the occurrence of any such incident. Because the techniques used to sabotage security change frequently, often are not recognized until launched against a target and may originate from less regulated and remote areas around the world, we may be unable to proactively address these techniques or to implement adequate preventive measures. We have obtained cyberinsurance, however we cannot assure you that our insurance will be sufficient to protect against our losses or will cover all potential incidents. Moreover, security breaches could result in negative publicity and damage to our reputation, exposure to risk of loss or litigation and possible liability due to regulatory penalties and sanctions or pursuant to our contractual arrangements with payment card processors for associated expenses and penalties. Security breaches could also cause customers and potential users and our suppliers to lose confidence in our security, which would have a negative effect on the value of our brands. Failure to adequately protect against attacks or intrusions, whether for our own systems or those of our suppliers, could expose us to security breaches that could have an adverse impact on our financial performance. For example, in 2014, hackers breached our system security and accessed credit card information from customers who had made purchases through our platform, representing approximately 663,000 unique credit card numbers.

 

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In addition, we cannot assure you that our backup systems or contingency plans will sustain critical aspects of our operations or business processes in all circumstances, many other systems are not fully redundant and our disaster recovery or business continuity planning may not be sufficient. Fire, flood, power loss, telecommunications failure, break-ins, earthquakes, acts of war or terrorism, acts of God, computer viruses, electronic intrusion attempts from both external and internal sources and similar events or disruptions may damage or impact or interrupt computer or communications systems or business processes at any time. Although we have put measures in place to protect certain portions of our facilities and assets, any of these events could cause system interruption, delays and loss of critical data, and could prevent us from providing services to our customers and/or third parties for a significant period of time. Remediation may be costly and we may not have adequate insurance to cover such costs. Moreover, the costs of enhancing infrastructure to attain improved stability and redundancy may be time consuming and expensive and may require resources and expertise that are difficult to obtain.

Our ability to attract, train and retain executives and other qualified employees, particularly highly-skilled IT professionals, is critical to our business and future growth.

Our business and future success is substantially dependent on the continued services and performance of our key executives, senior management and skilled personnel, particularly personnel with experience in our industry and our information technology and systems. Any of these individuals may choose to terminate their employment with us at any time and we cannot assure you that we will be able to retain these employees or find adequate replacements, if at all. The specialized skills we require can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive to acquire and/or develop and, as a result, these skills are often in short supply. A lengthy period of time may be required to hire and train replacement personnel when skilled personnel depart our company. Our ability to compete effectively depends on our ability to attract new employees and to retain and motivate our existing employees. We may be required to increase our levels of employee compensation more rapidly than in the past to remain competitive in attracting the quality of employees that our business requires. Competition for these personnel is intense, and we cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully attract, integrate, train, retain, motivate and manage sufficiently qualified personnel. If we do not succeed in attracting well-qualified employees or retaining or motivating existing employees, our business and prospects for growth could be adversely affected.

In addition, we compete for talented individuals not only with other companies in our industry but also with companies in other industries, such as software services, engineering services and financial services companies, among others, and there is a limited pool of individuals who have the skills and training needed to help us grow our company. High attrition rates of qualified personnel could have an adverse effect on our ability to expand our business, as well as cause us to incur greater personnel expenses and training costs.

Moreover, while we sometimes require our senior management to sign non-compete agreements, typically for a period of one year following termination, we cannot assure you that our former employees will not compete with us in the future. In addition, these non-compete agreements may be difficult to enforce in certain Latin-American jurisdictions.

We rely on third-party systems and service providers and any disruption or adverse change in their businesses could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We currently rely on a variety of third-party systems, service providers and software companies, including the GDS and other electronic central reservation systems used by airlines, various channel managing systems and reservation systems used by other suppliers, as well as other technologies used by payment gateway providers. In particular, we rely on third parties for:

 

    the hosting of our websites;

 

    certain software underlying our technology platform;

 

    transportation ticketing agencies to issue transportation tickets and travel assistance products, confirmations and deliveries;

 

    third-party local tour operators to deliver on-site services to our packaged-tour customers;

 

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    assistance in conducting searches for airfares and process air ticket bookings;

 

    processing hotel reservations for hotels not connected to our management system;

 

    processing credit card, debit card and net banking payments;

 

    providing computer infrastructure critical to our business; and

 

    providing customer relationship management (CRM) services.

Any interruption or deterioration in performance of these third-party systems and services could have a material adverse effect on our business. Further, the information provided to us by certain of these third-party systems may not always be accurate due to either technical glitches or human error, and we may incur monetary and/or reputational loss as a result.

Our success is also dependent on our ability to maintain our relationships with these third-party systems and service providers. In the event our arrangements with any of these third parties are impaired or terminated, we may not be able to find an adequate alternative source of systems support on a timely basis or on commercially reasonable terms, which could result in significant additional costs or disruptions to our business. Any security breach at one of these companies could also affect our customers and harm our business.

We rely on banks or payment processors to collect payments from customers and facilitate payments to suppliers, and changes to credit card association fees, rules or practices may adversely affect our business.

We rely on banks or payment processors to process collections and payments, and we pay a fee for this service. In the countries where we operate, the number of processors is limited so there is little or no competition among processors. From time to time, credit card associations may increase the interchange fees that they charge for each transaction using one of their cards.

For certain payment methods, including credit cards, we pay transaction and other fees, which may increase over time and raise our operating costs, lowering profitability. We rely on third parties to provide payment processing services and it could disrupt our business if these companies become unwilling or unable to provide these services to us. If we fail to comply with these third-party servicers’ rules or requirements, or if our data security systems are breached or compromised (similar to the increase in fraud attempts we experienced in the fourth quarter of 2015 in Brazil), we may be liable for chargebacks, credit card issuing banks’ costs, fines and higher transaction fees and we may lose our ability to accept credit card payments from our customers, process electronic funds transfers, or facilitate other types of online payments. If any of these situations were to occur, our business and results of operations could be adversely affected.

Our business depends on the availability of credit cards and financing options for consumers.

Our business is highly dependent on the availability of credit cards and financing options for consumers. In 2017, 2016 and 2015, substantially all our net sales were derived from payments effected through credit cards. Moreover, approximately 55% of transactions in the year ended December 31, 2017 were paid by installment, using credit cards. As a result, the continued growth of our business is also partially dependent on the expansion of credit card penetration in Latin America, which may never reach a percentage similar to more developed countries for reasons that are beyond our control, such as low credit availability for a significant portion of the population in such countries. The provision of credit cards and other consumer financing depends on the product offerings at local and regional banks operating in the countries we serve. In the past, banking systems in Latin America have suffered disruptions and significantly limited availability and increased cost of consumer credit. Banks may also change their product offerings that they provide to consumers, or may change the availability or costs of such products, due to credit, regulations or other reasons beyond our control. For example, Argentina recently enacted regulations requiring vendors to disclose to customers the full price of items purchased by installment plan, including implicit financing costs. Furthermore, in Argentina, the rules that govern the credit card business provide for variable caps on the interest rates that financial entities may charge clients and the fees that they may charge merchants. Moreover, general legal provisions exist pursuant to which courts could decrease the interest rates and fees agreed upon by the parties on the grounds that they are excessively high.

 

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We rely on various banks to provide financing to our customers who elect to use an installment plan payment option. Some of our competitors also offer installment plans and may offer installment plans with more attractive terms. If we are not able to offer a competitive selection of installment plan financing at competitive rates, our business and results of operations could be adversely affected. Moreover, our agreements with local banks allow us to offer installment payment plans without assuming collection risk from the customer and receive payment in full (provided we choose not to factor such installment payments). We cannot assure you that local banks will not change their credit practices in the future. If our arrangements with local banks are impaired or terminated, our business and results of operations could be adversely affected.

Furthermore, as secure methods of payment for e-commerce transactions have not been widely adopted in certain emerging markets, consumers and other merchants may have relatively low confidence in the integrity of e-commerce transactions and remote payment mechanisms, which may have a material and adverse effect on our business prospects or limit our growth.

Our business could be negatively affected by changes in search engine algorithms and dynamics or other traffic-generating arrangements.

We increasingly utilize internet search engines such as Google, principally through the purchase of travel-related keywords, to generate a significant portion of the traffic to our websites. Search engines frequently update and change the algorithms that determine the placement and display of results of a user’s search. It is possible that any such update could negatively affect us or may negatively affect us relative to our competitors. We have developed search engine management tools to bid more efficiently on portfolios of travel-related keywords and we have a search engine management team dedicated to reviewing the return of investment of all biddings.

In addition, a significant amount of traffic is directed to our websites through participation in pay-per-click and display advertising campaigns on search engines, including Google, and travel metasearch engines, including TripAdvisor and Trivago. A search or metasearch engine could, for competitive or other purposes, adopt emerging technologies, such as voice, or alter its search algorithms or results, any of which could cause us to place lower in search query results, or exclude our website from the search query results. If a major search engine changes its algorithms or results in a manner that negatively affects the search engine ranking, paid or unpaid, of our websites, or if competitive dynamics impact the costs or effectiveness of search engine optimization, search engine marketing or other traffic-generating arrangements in a negative manner, this may have a material and adverse effect on our business and financial performance. In addition, certain metasearch engines have added or may add various forms of direct or assisted booking functionality to their sites. To the extent such functionality is promoted at the expense of traditional paid listings, this may reduce the amount of traffic to our websites or those of our affiliates.

Changes in internet browser functionality could result in a decrease in our overall revenue.

Some of our services and marketing activities rely on cookies, which are placed on individual browsers when users visit websites. We use these cookies to optimize our marketing campaigns, to better understand our users’ preferences and to detect and prevent fraudulent activity. Users can block or delete cookies through their browsers or “adblocking” software or apps. The most common internet browsers allow users to modify their browser settings to prevent cookies from being accepted by their browsers, or are set to block third-party cookies by default. Increased use of methods, software or apps that block cookies, or diminished interest of users resulting from our use of such marketing activities, may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our business depends on the continued growth of e-commerce and the availability and reliability of the internet in Latin America.

The market for e-commerce is developing in Latin America. Our future revenue depends substantially on Latin American consumers’ widespread acceptance and use of the internet as a way to conduct commerce. The use of and interest in the internet (particularly as a way to conduct commerce) has grown rapidly since our inception and we cannot assure you that this acceptance, interest and use will continue. For us to grow our user base successfully, more consumers must accept and use new ways of conducting business and exchanging information.

 

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The price of personal computers and/or mobile devices and internet access may limit our potential growth in countries with low levels of internet penetration and/or high levels of poverty. In addition, the infrastructure for the internet may not be able to support continued growth in the number of internet users, their frequency of use or their bandwidth requirements.

The internet could lose its viability due to delays in telecommunications technological developments, or due to increased government regulation. If telecommunications services change or are not sufficiently available to support the internet, response times would be slower, which would adversely affect use of the internet and our service in particular. Moreover, lack of investment in mobile infrastructure in Latin America may limit the expansion of our mobile business, which is one of our key growth strategies.

Growth of e-commerce transactions in Latin America may be impeded by the lack of secure payment methods.

As secure methods of payment for e-commerce transactions have not been widely adopted in Latin America, both consumers and merchants may have a relatively low confidence level in the integrity of e-commerce transactions. Consumer confidence can be adversely affected by incidents of fraud and security breaches, including generally in the marketplace, which is beyond our control. Moreover, although we are PCI DSS certified, most of our suppliers with which we share information are not. The continued growth of e-commerce in the region will depend on consumers’ confidence in the safety of online payment methods.

Our future success depends on our ability to expand and adapt our operations in a cost-effective and timely manner.

We plan to continue to expand our operations by developing and promoting new and complementary services and increasing our penetration in our markets. Moreover, we expect our customer base to expand as income levels and access to internet and banking services, such as credit card issuances, increase in Latin America. We may not succeed at expanding our operations in a cost-effective or timely manner, and our expansion efforts may not have the same or greater overall market acceptance as our current services. Furthermore, any new service that we launch that is not favorably received by consumers could damage our reputation and diminish the value of our brands. To expand our operations we will also need to spend significant amounts on development, operations and other resources, and this may place a strain on our management, financial and operational resources. Similarly, a lack of market acceptance of these services or our inability to generate satisfactory revenue from any expanded services to offset their cost could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We may not be successful in implementing our growth strategies.

Our growth strategies involve expanding our service and product offerings, enhancing our service platforms and potentially pursuing acquisitions or other strategic opportunities.

Our success in implementing our growth strategies could be affected by:

 

    our ability to attract customers in a cost-effective manner, including in markets where we have lower brand awareness or operational history;

 

    our ability to improve the competitiveness of our product offerings including by expanding the number of suppliers and negotiating fares and rates with existing and potential suppliers;

 

    our ability to market and cross-sell our travel services and products to facilitate the expansion of our business;

 

    our ability to compete effectively with existing and new entrants to the Latin American travel industry;

 

    our ability to expand and promote our mobile platform and make it user-friendly;

 

    our ability to build required technology;

 

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    our ability to expand our businesses through strategic acquisitions and successfully integrate such acquisitions;

 

    the general condition of the global economy (particularly in Latin America) and continued growth in demand for travel services, particularly online;

 

    the growth of the internet and mobile technology as a medium for commerce in Latin America; and

 

    changes in the regulatory environments where we operate.

Many of these factors are beyond our control and we cannot assure you that we will succeed in implementing our strategies. Even if we are successful in executing our growth strategies, our different businesses may not grow at the same rate or with a uniform effect on our revenue and profitability.

Acquisitions could present risks and disrupt our ongoing business.

We may seek to undertake strategic acquisitions in the future. We have not undertaken significant acquisitions in the past, and we cannot assure you that we will be successful in identifying opportunities and consummating acquisitions on favorable terms or at all. Depending on the size and timing of an acquisition, we may be required to raise future financing to consummate the acquisition. Moreover, even if we are able to consummate a transaction, acquisitions may involve significant risks and uncertainties, including distraction of management from current operations, difficulties in integration with our existing business and technology, greater than expected liabilities and expenses, inadequate return on capital, and unidentified issues not discovered in our pre-acquisition investigations and evaluations of those strategies and acquisitions.

If we continue to grow, we may not be able to appropriately manage the increased size of our business.

We have experienced significant expansion in recent years and anticipate that further expansion will be required to address potential growth in our customer base and market opportunities. This expansion has placed, and is expected to continue to place, significant demands on management and our operational and financial resources.

We must constantly improve our software, technology infrastructure, product offering and human resources to accommodate the increased use of our website. This upgrade process is expensive, and the increasing complexity and enhancement of our website result in higher costs. Failure to upgrade our technology, features, transaction processing systems, security infrastructure, or network infrastructure to accommodate increased traffic or transaction volume or the increased complexity of our website could materially harm our business. Adverse consequences could include unanticipated system disruptions, slower response times, degradation in levels of customer support, impaired quality of users’ experiences with our services and delays in reporting accurate financial information. Furthermore, we may need to enter into relationships with various strategic partners and other third-party service providers necessary to our business. The increased complexity of managing multiple commercial relationships could lead to execution problems that can affect current and future revenue and operating margins.

Our failure to manage growth effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Internet regulation in the countries where we operate is scarce, and several legal issues related to the internet are uncertain.

Most of the countries where we operate do not have specific laws governing the liability of e-commerce business intermediaries, such as ourselves, for fraud, intellectual property infringement or other illegal activities committed by individual users or third-party infringing content hosted on a provider’s servers. This legal uncertainty allows for different judges or courts to decide very similar claims in different ways and establish contradictory case law.

In addition, we are subject to a variety of laws, decrees and regulations across the countries where we operate that affect e-commerce, electronic or mobile payments, information requirements for internet providers, data collection, data protection, privacy, anti-money laundering, taxation (including VAT or sales tax collection obligations), obligations to provide certain information to certain authorities about transactions which are

 

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processed through our platforms or about our users and those regulations applicable to consumer protection and businesses in general. However, it is not clear how existing laws governing issues such as general commercial activities, property ownership, copyrights and other intellectual property issues, taxation (including tax laws that require us to provide certain information about transactions consummated through our platforms or about our users) and personal privacy apply to online businesses. Many of these laws were adopted before the internet was available and, as a result, do not contemplate or address the unique issues of the internet.

Moreover, due to these areas of legal uncertainty, and the increasing popularity and use of the internet and other online services, it is possible that new laws and regulations will be adopted with respect to the internet or other online services. If laws relating to these issues are enacted, they may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operation and financial condition.

We are subject to laws relating to the collection, use, storage and transfer of personally identifiable information about our users, especially financial information. Several jurisdictions have regulations in this area, and other jurisdictions are considering imposing additional restrictions or regulations. If we violate these laws, which in many cases apply not only to third-party transactions but also to international transfers of information or transfers of information to third parties with which we have commercial relations, we could be subject to significant penalties and negative publicity, which would adversely affect us.

Because our services are accessible worldwide, other foreign jurisdictions may claim that we are required to comply with their laws. Laws regulating internet companies outside of the Latin American jurisdictions where we operate may be more restrictive to us than those in Latin America. In order to comply with these laws, we may have to change our business practices or restrict our services. We could be subject to penalties ranging from criminal prosecution, significant fines or outright bans on our services for failure to comply with foreign laws.

We process, store and use personal information, card payment information and other consumer data, which subjects us to risks stemming from possible failure to comply with governmental regulation and other legal obligations.

We acquire personal or confidential information from users of our website and mobile applications. There are numerous laws regarding privacy and the storing, sharing, use, processing, transfer, disclosure and protection of personal information, card payment information and other consumer data, the scope of which are changing, subject to differing interpretations, and may be inconsistent between countries or conflict with other rules. We strive to comply with all applicable laws, policies, legal obligations and industry codes of conduct relating to privacy and data protection. It is possible, however, that these obligations may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent from one jurisdiction to another and may conflict with other rules or the practices of the company. Any failure or perceived failure by us, or our service providers, to comply with the privacy policies, privacy-related obligations to users or other third parties, or privacy related legal obligations, or any compromise of security that results in the unauthorized release or transfer of personally identifiable information, payment card information or other consumer data, may result in governmental enforcement actions, litigation or public statements against the company by consumer advocacy groups or others and could cause our customers and members to lose trust in the company, as well as subject us to bank fines, penalties or increased transaction costs, all of which could have an adverse effect on our business.

The regulatory framework for privacy issues is currently in flux and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Practices regarding the collection, use, storage, transmission and security of personal information by companies operating over the internet have recently come under increased public scrutiny. Countries in Latin America are increasingly implementing new privacy regulations, resulting in additional compliance burdens and uncertainty as to how some of these laws will be interpreted.

Application of existing tax laws or regulations are subject to interpretation by taxing authorities.

The application of income and non-income tax laws and regulations to our products and services is subject to interpretation by the applicable taxing authorities across the multiple jurisdictions in which we operate our business. For example, in Brazil we are subject to corporate income tax (IRPJ), social contribution on net profits (CSLL), social contribution on total revenue (PIS and COFINS), withholding taxes, and a municipal tax on services (ISS). In Argentina, we are subject to income tax, value added tax, and turnover tax. In both countries, we are subject to transfer pricing rules applicable to cross-border operations with related parties or parties in tax havens or subject to privileged fiscal regimes. These taxing authorities may become more aggressive in their interpretation and/or enforcement of such laws and regulations over time, as governments are increasingly

 

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focused on ways to increase revenue. This may contribute to an increase in audit activity and harsher stances by tax authorities. As such, additional taxes or other assessments may be in excess of our current tax reserves or may require us to modify our business practices to reduce our exposure to additional taxes going forward, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

While we believe we currently comply in all material respects with applicable tax laws and regulations in the jurisdictions we operate, tax authorities may determine that we owe additional taxes. Moreover, we may have historical tax contingencies across multiple jurisdictions, and while we have made provisions for those contingencies which we considered probable, the amount of total contingencies may exceed our provisions. We estimate that as of December 31, 2017 we have approximately $23 million of unasserted possible losses, including related to taxes, for which we have not recorded provisions. In accordance with U.S. GAAP, we record provisions for contingencies based on probable loss or when otherwise required under accounting rules, but we do not record provisions for possible and remote losses.

Significant judgment and estimation is required in determining our tax liabilities. In the ordinary course of our business, there are transactions and calculations, including intercompany transactions and cross-jurisdictional transfer pricing, for which the ultimate tax determination may be uncertain or otherwise subject to interpretation. Tax authorities may disagree with our intercompany charges, including the amount of or basis for such charges, cross-jurisdictional transfer pricing or other matters, and assess additional taxes. Although we believe our tax estimates are reasonable, the final determination of tax audits could be materially different from our historical income tax provisions and accruals, in which case we may be subject to additional tax liabilities, possibly including interest and penalties, which could have a material adverse effect on our cash flows and results of operations. Moreover, we have in the past and may in the future be required in certain jurisdictions to pay any such tax assessments prior to contesting their validity, which payments may be substantial.

Amendment to existing tax laws or regulations or enactment of new unfavorable tax laws or regulations could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Many of the underlying laws or regulations imposing taxes and other obligations were established before the growth of the internet and e-commerce. If the tax or other laws or regulations were amended, or if new unfavorable laws or regulations were enacted, our tax payments or other obligations could increase, prospectively or retrospectively, subject us to interest and penalties, decrease the demand for our products and services if we pass on such costs to our customers, result in increased costs to update or expand our technical or administrative infrastructure or effectively limit the scope of our business activities if we decided not to conduct business in particular jurisdictions. As a result, these changes could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Governments could adopt tax laws that increase our tax rate or tax liabilities or affect the carrying value of deferred tax assets or liabilities, including the termination of tax-free incentives or termination of treaties for the avoidance of double taxation. Any changes to tax laws could impact the tax treatment of our earnings and adversely affect our profitability. Our effective tax rate in the future could also be adversely affected by changes to our operating structure, changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, or changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities. Moreover, our results of operations and financial condition may be affected if certain beneficial tax incentives are not retained or renewed.

The Company may face risks associated with the recently enacted Tax Act.

On December 22, 2017, the U.S. government enacted comprehensive tax legislation that makes broad and complex changes to the U.S. tax code (the “Tax Act”) including, but not limited to: (1) a one-time transition tax on certain unrepatriated earnings of foreign subsidiaries, (2) full expensing of qualified property, (3) a reduction of the U.S. federal corporate income tax rate to 21 percent (4) elimination of U.S. federal income taxes on dividends from certain foreign subsidiaries, (5) a new tax on certain income earned by controlled foreign corporations, (6) a new limitation on deductible interest expense, (7) limitations on the use of foreign tax credits to offset U.S. federal income taxes and (8) a limitation on the use of net operating losses generated after December 31, 2017 to 80 percent of taxable income. While the Company is still evaluating the impact of these changes, certain of these changes could adversely impact its financial condition or results of operations.

 

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We are subject to anti-corruption and economic sanctions laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which we operate, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and regulations administered and enforced by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations could negatively impact our business, our results of operations, and our financial condition.

We are subject to a number of anti-corruption and economic sanctions laws and regulations, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and regulations administered and enforced by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). Failure to comply with these laws and regulations could negatively impact our business, our results of operations, and our financial condition.

The FCPA and similar anti-bribery laws generally prohibit companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments or improperly providing anything of value to foreign officials, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business and/or other benefits. The FCPA also requires maintenance of adequate record-keeping and internal accounting practices to accurately reflect transactions. Under the FCPA, companies operating in the United States may be held liable for actions taken by their strategic or local partners or representatives. Other jurisdictions in which we operate have adopted similar anti-corruption, anti-bribery and anti-kickback laws to which we are subject.

Economic sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, such as those administered and enforced by OFAC, vary in their application, as they do not all apply to the same covered persons or proscribe the same activities, and such sanctions and embargo laws and regulations may be amended or strengthened over time. Although we believe that we are in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, and intend to maintain such compliance, there can be no assurance that we will be in compliance in the future, particularly as the scope of certain laws may be unclear and may be subject to changing interpretations.

Civil and criminal penalties may be imposed for violations of these laws. We operate in some countries which are viewed as high risk for corruption and/or economic sanctions issues. Despite our ongoing efforts to ensure compliance with the FCPA and similar laws, and economic sanctions laws and regulations, there can be no assurance that our directors, officers, employees, agents, and third-party intermediaries will comply with those laws and our policies, and we may be ultimately held responsible for any such non-compliance. If we or our directors or officers violate such laws or other similar laws governing the conduct of our business (including local laws), we or our directors or officers may be subject to criminal and civil penalties or other remedial measures, which could harm our reputation and have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations. Any investigation of any actual or alleged violations of such laws could also harm our reputation or have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

We are, and may be in the future, involved in various legal proceedings, the outcomes of which could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

We are, and may be in the future, involved in various legal proceedings relating to allegations of our failure to comply with consumer protection, labor, tax or antitrust regulations, that could involve claims or sanctions for substantial amounts of money or for other relief or that might necessitate changes to our business or operations.

Our websites contain information about hotels, flights, popular vacation destinations and other travel-related topics. It is possible that if any information, accessible on our websites, contains errors or false or misleading information, third parties could take action against us for losses incurred in connection with the use of such information. In addition, because consumer protection laws in many of our markets provide for joint liability, customers may bring claims against us for a failure or deficiencies in the provision of a travel product or service by one of our suppliers that is outside of our control.

The defense of any of these actions is, and may continue to be, both time-consuming and expensive. We cannot assure you that we will prevail in these legal proceedings or in any future legal proceedings and if such disputes were to result in an unfavorable outcome, it could result in reputational damage and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. For a discussion of certain key legal proceedings relating to us, see “Item 4. Information on the Company — Business Overview — Legal Proceedings.”

 

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We may not be able to adequately protect and enforce our intellectual property rights; and we could potentially face claims alleging that our technologies infringe the property rights of others.

Our websites and mobile applications rely on brands, domain names, technology and content. We protect our brands and domain names by relying on trademark and domain name registration in accordance with laws in Latin America. We have also entered into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and certain contractors, as well as confidentiality agreements with certain suppliers and strategic partners, in order to protect our technology and content. We own our technology platform, which is comprised of applications that we develop in-house using primarily open source software. We have not registered our technology, however, because we believe it would be difficult to replicate and that it is adequately protected by the agreements we have in place. Additionally, our technology is constantly evolving and any registration may run the risk of protecting outdated technology. Even with these precautions, it may be possible for another party to copy or otherwise obtain and use our intellectual property without our authorization or to develop similar intellectual property independently. Effective trademark protection may not be available in every jurisdiction in which our services are made available, and policing unauthorized use of our intellectual property is difficult and expensive. Any misappropriation or violation of our rights could have a material adverse effect on our business. Furthermore, we may need to go to court or other tribunals to enforce our intellectual property rights or to determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others. These proceedings might result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention.

We currently license from third parties some of the technologies, trademarks and content incorporated into our websites. As we continue to introduce new services that incorporate new technologies, third parties’ trademarks and content, we may be required to license additional technologies, third parties’ trademarks and content. We cannot be sure that such technologies and content licenses will be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all.

Third parties may assert that our services, products and technology, including software and processes, violate their intellectual property rights. As competition in our industry increases and the functionality of technology offerings further overlaps, such claims and counterclaims could increase. We cannot assure you that we do not or will not inadvertently infringe on the intellectual property rights of third parties. Any intellectual property claim against us, regardless of its merit, could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and could be expensive and time consuming to defend. Our failure to prevail in such matters could result in loss of intellectual property rights, judgments awarding substantial damages and injunctive or other equitable relief against us, or require us to delay or cease offering services or reduce features in our services.

Increased labor costs, compliance with labor laws and regulations and failure to maintain good relations with labor unions may adversely affect our results of operations.

We are required to comply with extensive labor regulations in each of the countries in which we have employees, including with respect to wages, social security benefits and termination payments. If we fail to comply with these regulations we may face labor claims and government fines.

In the past, governments from certain countries in which we operate, including Argentina, have adopted laws, regulations and other measures requiring companies in the private sector to increase wages and provide specified benefits to employees. We cannot assure you that these governments will not do so again in the future.

In addition, some of our employees in Argentina, Brazil and certain other countries are currently represented by labor unions. We may face pressure from our labor unions or otherwise to increase salaries. In Argentina, for example, employers in both the public and private sectors have historically experienced, and are currently experiencing, significant pressure from unions and their employees to further increase salaries due to the devaluation of the peso and high inflation. The INDEC published data regarding the evolution of salaries in the private and public sectors in Argentina, which reflects approximately 32.9% and 32.6% salary increases in the private and public sectors, respectively, for the period from November 2015 through December 2016 and approximately 27.3% and 25.0% salary increases in the private and public sectors, respectively, for 2017. Due to high levels of inflation and full employment in the tech industry, we expect to continue to raise salaries. If future salary increases in the Argentine peso or the currencies of other countries in which we have employees exceed the pace of the devaluation of those currencies, such salary increases could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

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Moreover, while we have enjoyed satisfactory relationships with labor unions that represent our employees, labor-related disputes may still arise. Labor disputes that result in strikes or other disruptions could adversely affect our business, financial condition and result of operations.

A failure to comply with current laws, rules and regulations or changes to such laws, rules and regulations and other legal uncertainties may adversely affect our business, results of operations or business growth.

We have been subject, and we will likely be subject in the future, to inquiries from time to time from regulatory bodies concerning compliance with consumer protection, tax, labor, antitrust and travel industry-specific laws and regulations.

Such inquiries have included investigations and legal proceedings relating to the travel industry and, in particular, parity provisions in contracts between hotels and travel companies, including us, as well as allegations of “geopricing” or “geoblocking practices”. See Item 4. “Business—Legal and Regulatory—Legal Proceedings” for more information. Parity provisions are significant to our business model, and their removal or modification may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. We are unable at this time to predict the timing or outcome of these various investigations and lawsuits, or similar future investigations or lawsuits, and their impact, if any, on our business and results of operations.

The failure of our businesses to comply with these laws and regulations could result in fines and/or proceedings against us by governmental agencies and/or consumers, which if material, could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Further, if such laws and regulations are not enforced equally against other competitors in a particular market, our compliance with such laws may put us a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis competitors which do not comply with such requirements.

Complaints from customers or negative publicity about our services can diminish consumer confidence and adversely affect our business.

Because volume and growth in the number of new customers are key drivers of our revenue and profitability, customer complaints or negative publicity about our customer service could severely diminish consumer confidence in and use of our services. Measures we sometimes take to combat risks of fraud and breaches of privacy and security can damage relations with our customers. To maintain good customer relations, we need prompt and accurate customer service to resolve irregularities and disputes. Effective customer service requires significant personnel expense and investment in developing programs and technology infrastructure to help customer service representatives carry out their functions. These expenses, if not managed properly, could significantly impact our profitability. Failure to manage or train our customer service representatives properly could compromise our ability to handle customer complaints effectively. If we do not handle customer complaints effectively, our reputation and brand may suffer and we may lose our customers’ confidence.

Consumer adoption and use of mobile devices creates new challenges.

Widespread adoption of mobile devices, coupled with the web browsing functionality and development of apps available on these devices, is driving substantial online traffic and commerce to mobile platforms. We have experienced a significant shift of business to mobile platforms and our suppliers are also seeing a rapid shift of traffic to mobile platforms. Many of our competitors and new market entrants are offering mobile apps for travel products and other functionality, including proprietary last-minute discounts for accommodation reservations. Advertising and distribution opportunities may be more limited on mobile devices given their smaller screen sizes. The average price of travel products purchased in mobile transactions may be less than a typical desktop transaction due to different consumer purchasing patterns. Further, given the device sizes and technical limitations of tablets and smartphones, mobile consumers may not be willing to download multiple apps from multiple companies providing a similar service and instead prefer to use one or a limited number of apps for their mobile travel activity. As a result, the consumer experience with mobile apps as well as brand recognition and loyalty are likely to become increasingly important. Our mobile offerings drive a material and increasing share of our business. We believe that mobile bookings present an opportunity for growth and are necessary to maintain and grow our business as consumers increasingly turn to mobile devices instead of a desktop computer. As a result, it is increasingly important for us to develop and maintain effective mobile apps and websites optimized for mobile devices to provide consumers with an appealing, easy-to-use mobile experience. If we are unable to continue to innovate rapidly and create new, user-friendly and differentiated mobile offerings and advertise and distribute on these platforms efficiently and effectively, or if our mobile offerings are not used by consumers, we could lose considerable market share to existing competitors or new entrants and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

 

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Moreover, we are dependent on the compatibility of our app with popular mobile operating systems that we do not control, such as Android and iOS, and any changes in such systems that degrade our products’ functionality or give preferential treatment to competitive products could adversely affect the usage of our app on mobile devices. Additionally, in order to deliver high quality mobile products, it is important that our products work well with a range of mobile technologies, systems, networks, and standards that we do not control. We may not be successful in developing relationships with key participants in the mobile industry or in developing products that operate effectively with these technologies, systems, networks, or standards. In the event that it is more difficult for our users to access and use our app on their mobile devices, or if our users choose not to access or use our app on their mobile devices or use mobile products that do not offer access to our app, our user growth and user engagement could be harmed.

We rely exclusively on Expedia for the hotel and other lodging products that we offer for all countries outside Latin America.

The hotel and other lodging products that we offer through our platform for all the countries outside Latin America are provided to us exclusively by affiliates of Expedia pursuant to the Expedia Outsourcing Agreement. In addition, Expedia is the preferred provider to us of hotel and other lodging products in Latin America. For more information on our relationships with Expedia, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions — B. Related Party — Relationship with Expedia.”

If Expedia’s affiliates cease to provide us with their hotel and other lodging products, we may be unable to offer these products to our users for some time and it might be difficult for us to replace this supply in the short term, which would negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. The Expedia Outsourcing Agreement may be terminated by Expedia, and we may be required to pay a $125.0 million termination payment, if we do not meet certain minimum performance requirements or if the termination by Expedia is for our material breach of certain terms under the Expedia Outsourcing Agreement or our Shareholder Agreements. In addition, Expedia may unilaterally terminate the Expedia Outsourcing Agreement in the event of a change of control of our Company.

Moreover, if the hotel and other lodging products provided by Expedia were to suffer a deterioration in scale or quality, or if their pricing were not attractive, the products and services that we offer to our users would be adversely affected. The Expedia Outsourcing Agreement may be terminated by us unilaterally beginning from March 6, 2022 upon payment of a $125.0 million termination payment to Expedia. Consequently, if a deterioration in the scale or quality of the products and services provided exclusively to us by affiliates of Expedia were to occur, or if their pricing were not attractive, it could be difficult for us to terminate the Expedia Outsourcing Agreement.

We may experience constraints in our liquidity and may be unable to access capital when necessary or desirable, either of which could adversely affect our financial condition.

Although we believe we have a sufficient level of cash and cash equivalents to cover our working capital needs in the ordinary course of business, we may, from time to time, explore additional financing sources and means to improve our liquidity and lower our cost of capital, which could include equity, equity-linked and debt financing and factoring activities. In addition, from time to time, we review acquisition and investment opportunities to further implement our business strategy and may fund these investments with bank financing, the issuance of debt or equity or a combination thereof.

The availability of financing depends in significant measure on capital markets and liquidity factors over which we exert no control. In light of periodic uncertainty in the capital and credit markets, we can provide no assurance that sufficient financing will be available on desirable or even any terms to improve our liquidity, fund investments, acquisitions or extraordinary actions or that our counterparties in any such financings would honor their contractual commitments, which in turn could negatively affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, if we raise funding through the issuance of new equity or equity-linked securities, it would dilute the percentage ownership of our then existing shareholders.

 

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Our business experiences seasonal fluctuations and quarter-to-quarter comparisons of our results may not be meaningful.

Our business experiences fluctuations, reflecting seasonal variations in demand for travel services. For example, bookings for vacation and leisure travel are generally higher during the fourth quarter, although we have historically recognized more revenue associated with those bookings in the first quarter of each year. As a result, quarter-to-quarter comparisons of our results may not be meaningful. Moreover, seasonal fluctuations in our results of operations could result in declines in our share price that are not related to the overall performance and prospects of our business.

The use of derivative financial instruments may adversely affect our results of operations, particularly in a volatile and uncertain market.

From time to time, we enter into derivative transactions to manage our risks associated with currency exchange rates and interest rates. Significant changes may occur in our portfolio of derivative instruments due to increasing volatility and the fluctuation of the currencies of certain countries where we operate, including Brazil and Argentina, against the dollar and volatility in the relevant interest rates, and we may incur net losses from our derivative financial instruments. The fair value of the derivative instruments fluctuates over time as a result of the effects of future interest rates and exchange rates. These values must be analyzed in connection with the underlying transactions and as a part of our total average exposure to interest rate and exchange rate fluctuations. It is difficult to predict the magnitude of the risk resulting from derivative instruments because the appreciation is imprecise and variable. We may be adversely affected by our derivative financial positions.

Risks Related to Latin America

Latin American countries are subject to political and social instability.

Political and social developments in Latin America, including government deadlock, instability, civil strife, terrorism, high levels of crime, expropriations and other risks of doing business in Latin America could impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

For example, recently in Brazil, as a result of the ongoing Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato investigation), a number of senior politicians have resigned or been arrested and other senior elected officials and public officials are being investigated for allegations of corruption. On August 31, 2016, the Brazilian Senate impeached President Rousseff for violations of fiscal responsibility laws and the then-Vice-President Temer assumed office to complete the remainder of the presidential mandate. The development of the investigations conducted by the Federal Police Department and the General Federal Prosecutor’s Office has increased political and economic uncertainty in the country. In June 2017, President Temer was indicted on corruption charges which, in August 2017, were rejected by the House of Representatives (Câmara dos Deputados) and, therefore, the proceeding is suspended and may only continue when Temer ceases to be President. In addition, in July 2017, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was convicted of corruption and money laundering by a lower federal court in the State of Paraná in connection with the Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato). The recent arrest of former President Lula da Silva on April 7, 2018, who was a frontrunner in the upcoming election, has resulted in widespread protests and created uncertainty with respect to the congressional and presidential elections to be held in October 2018. We cannot predict the outcome of recent political uncertainty in Brazil and its future effects on the Brazilian economy.

In Argentina, during 2001 and 2002, the country experienced social and political turmoil, including the resignation of President De la Rúa, riots, looting, protests, strikes and street demonstrations. Also, in the past decade, the prior Argentine administration nationalized or announced plans to nationalize certain industries and expropriate private sector companies and property. In December 2008, the Argentine government transferred approximately AR$94.4 billion ($29.3 billion) in assets held by the country’s private Administradoras de Fondos de Jubilaciones y Pensiones (pension fund management companies, or “AFJPs”) to the government-run social security agency (“ANSES”). AFJPs were the largest participants in the country’s local capital market. With the nationalization of their assets, the local capital market decreased in size and became substantially concentrated. In addition, the Argentine government became a significant shareholder in many of the country’s public companies, including YPF S.A., the main Argentine oil and gas company, in which the majority of the capital stock was expropriated from the Spanish company Repsol, S.A. in 2012.

 

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Although political and social conditions in one country may differ significantly from another country, events in any of our key markets could adversely affect our business, financial conditions or results of operations.

Latin American countries have experienced periods of adverse macroeconomic conditions.

Our business is dependent upon economic conditions prevalent in Latin America. Latin American countries have historically experienced economic instability, including uneven periods of economic growth as well as significant downturns. As a consequence of economic conditions in global markets and lower commodity prices and demand for commodities, many of the economies of Latin American countries have recently slowed their rates of growth, and some have entered recessions.

For example, in Brazil real GDP decreased 3.8% in 2015, decreased 3.6% in 2016 and increased 1% in 2017, according to the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estadística, or “IGBE”). In addition, the credit rating of the Brazilian federal government was downgraded in 2015 and 2016 by all major credit rating agencies and is no longer investment grade.

Argentina during 2001 and 2002 underwent a period of severe political, economic and social crisis with real GDP contracting 10.9% in 2002. Among other consequences, the crisis resulted in the Argentine government defaulting on its foreign debt obligations, a significant devaluation of the Argentine peso, the introduction of emergency measures and numerous changes in regulations and economic policies, which in turn caused numerous Argentine private sector companies to default on their outstanding debt. More recently, according to INDEC, Argentina’s real GDP increased by 2.9% in 2017, compared to a 2.3% decrease in 2016, after growing 2.4% in 2015.

Since our business is dependent on discretionary consumer spending, which is influenced by general economic conditions, any prolonged economic downturn in any of our key markets could have adverse effects on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Latin American governments have exercised and continue to exercise significant influence over their economies.

Governments in Latin America frequently intervene in the economies of their respective countries and occasionally make significant changes in policy and regulations. Governmental actions have often involved, among other measures, nationalizations and expropriations, price controls, currency devaluations, mandatory increases on wages and employee benefits, capital controls and limits on imports. Our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by changes in government policies or regulations, including such factors as exchange rates and exchange control policies; inflation control policies; price control policies; consumer protection policies; import duties and restrictions; liquidity of domestic capital and lending markets; electricity rationing; tax policies, including tax increases and retroactive tax claims; and other political, diplomatic, social and economic developments in or affecting the countries where we operate.

In the future, the level of intervention by Latin American governments may continue or increase. We cannot assure you that these or other measures will not have a material adverse effect on the economy of each respective country and, consequently, will not adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Inflation, and government measures to curb inflation, may adversely affect Latin American economies.

Many of the countries in which we operate have experienced, or are currently experiencing, high rates of inflation. For example, the inflation rate in Brazil, as reflected by the Broad Consumer Price Index (Índice Nacional de Preços ao Consumidor Amplo, or “IPCA”), published by the IBGE, was 6.4% in 2014, 10.7% in 2015, 6.3% in 2016 and 2.9% in 2017.

In Argentina, inflation has materially undermined the economy and the government’s ability to foster conditions that permit stable growth. The Consumer Price Index (Índice de Precios al Consumidor de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires or “IPCBA”) measured by the City of Buenos Aires (national statistical data was not available in Argentina from December 2015 to June 2016) showed an increase 26.9% in 2015 and 41% in 2016. According to measurements from INDEC of the national consumer price index, inflation for the first nine months of 2015 was 10.7%, for the period from May to December 2016 was 15.8%, and for 2017 was 24.8%. Moreover, from December 2015 to January 2016, the new administration declared the national statistics agency; i.e., the INDEC,

 

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in state of administrative emergency and announced the implementation of certain methodological reforms and adjustment of certain macroeconomic statistics on the basis of these reforms. Although these reforms have been favorably received by the IMF, there remains uncertainty as to whether official data and measurement procedures sufficiently reflect inflation in the country, and what effect these reforms will have on the Argentine economy.

The measures taken by the governments of these countries to control inflation have often included maintaining a tight monetary policy with high interest rates, thereby restricting the availability of credit and retarding economic growth. Inflation, measures to combat inflation and public speculation about possible additional actions have contributed materially to economic uncertainty in many of these countries.

Inflation is also likely to increase some of our costs and expenses, including labor costs, which we may not be able to fully pass on to our customers, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Exchange rate fluctuations against the dollar in the countries in which we operate could negatively affect our results of operations.

Local currencies used in the conduct of our business are subject to depreciation and volatility. The currencies of many countries in Latin America have experienced significant volatility in the past, particularly against the dollar.

For example, the Brazilian real has historically experienced frequent, sometimes significant, fluctuations relative to the dollar. The real depreciated 47% in 2015, appreciated 17% in 2016 and depreciated 2% in 2017, based on official exchange rates as reported by the Brazilian Central Bank. In addition, the Argentine peso has also suffered significant devaluations against the dollar. The Argentine peso depreciated 52% against the dollar in 2015, primarily after the lifting of certain foreign exchange restrictions in the month of December, depreciated 17% against the dollar in the year ended December 31, 2016 and depreciated 18% against the dollar in 2017.

We are subject to foreign currency exchange controls in certain countries in which we operate.

Certain Latin American economies have experienced shortages in foreign currency reserves and their respective governments have adopted restrictions on the ability to transfer funds out of the country and convert local currencies into dollars.

For example, Brazilian law provides that whenever there is a serious imbalance in Brazil’s balance of payments or reason to foresee a serious imbalance, the Brazilian government may impose temporary restrictions on the remittance to foreign investors of the proceeds of their investments in Brazil.

Argentina in 2001 and 2002 imposed exchange controls and transfer restrictions substantially limiting the ability of companies to make payments abroad. Since the last quarter of 2011, the Argentine government increased controls on the sale of foreign currency and the acquisition of foreign assets by local residents, limiting the possibility of transferring funds abroad. In December 2015, the new administration lifted several exchange control restrictions, and in August 2016, the Argentine Central Bank issued new regulations which repealed most of the restrictions for the purchase of foreign currency and the inflow and outflow of funds from Argentina, providing greater flexibility and access to the Argentine official foreign exchange market (the “MULC” for its acronym in Spanish or the “FX Market”). Furthermore, on May 19, 2017, the Central Bank issued new regulations regarding access to the foreign exchange market essentially abrogating all prior regulations and restrictions.

We cannot assure you that foreign exchange controls in Brazil, Argentina or any other country where we operate, may not reemerge or worsen in the future to prevent capital flight, counter a significant depreciation of the Brazilian real, Argentine peso or other currency, or address other unforeseen circumstances. Additional controls could have a negative effect on the ability of our operating entities in the affected country to access the international credit or capital markets.

Any shortages or restrictions on the transfer of funds from abroad may impede our ability to convert these currencies into dollars and to transfer funds, including for the payment of dividends or debt. Moreover, such restrictions limit our ability to use funds for operating purposes in other countries. Consequently, if we are prohibited from transferring funds out of the countries in which we operate, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected. For a discussion of certain foreign exchange regulations applicable to us, see “Item 10. Additional Information — Exchange Controls”.

 

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Developments in other markets may affect Latin America.

The market value of companies like us may be, to varying degrees, affected by economic and market conditions in other global markets. Various Latin American economies have been adversely impacted by the political and economic events that occurred in several emerging economies in recent times, including Mexico in 1994, the collapse of several Asian economies between 1997 and 1998, the economic crisis in Russia in 1998, the Brazilian devaluations in January of 1999 and 2002 and the Argentine crisis of 2001 and 2012. In addition, Latin American economies have been adversely affected by events in developed countries, such as the 2008 and 2009 global financial crisis that arose in the United States.

As of the date of this Annual Report, recent global developments have occurred in the world which could impact the economies of the Latin American countries in which we operate and consequently have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and the results of operations, such as any new restrictions on travel, immigration or trade.

Developments of a similar magnitude to the international markets in the future can be expected to adversely affect the economies of Latin American countries and, therefore, us.

Risks Related to our Ordinary Shares

An active or liquid trading market for our ordinary shares may not be maintained.

An active, liquid trading market for our ordinary shares may not be maintained in the long term. Loss of liquidity could increase the price volatility of our ordinary shares. Moreover, we cannot assure you that investors will be able to sell ordinary shares should they decide to do so.

The price of our ordinary shares may fluctuate significantly and your investment may decline in value.

The price of our ordinary shares may fluctuate significantly in response to factors, many of which are beyond our control, including those described above under “—Risks Related to our Business” and “—Risks Related to Latin America.” The stock markets in general, and the shares of emerging market and technology companies in particular, have experienced price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of the companies involved. We cannot assure you that any trading price or valuation will be sustained. These factors may materially and adversely affect the market price of our ordinary shares, which may limit or prevent investors from readily selling our ordinary shares and may otherwise affect liquidity, regardless of our operating performance. Market fluctuations, as well as general political and economic conditions in the markets in which we operate, such as recession or currency exchange rate fluctuations, may also adversely affect the market price of our ordinary shares. Following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, that company may often be subject to securities class-action litigation. This kind of litigation may result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation.

 

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The sale or availability for sale of substantial amounts of our ordinary shares could adversely affect their market price.

Sales of substantial amounts of our ordinary shares in the public market, or the perception that such sales could occur, could adversely affect the market price of our ordinary shares, even if there is no relationship between such sales and the performance of our business.

A majority of our ordinary shares are currently held by affiliates, which means they may not be sold unless the sale is registered under the Securities Act, other than if an exemption from registration is available. Certain of our shareholders have demand and/or other piggyback registration rights which may enable them to sell some or all of their ordinary shares in a public offering in the United States registered under the Securities Act. For more information, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions.”

The strategic interests of our significant shareholders may, from time to time, differ from, and conflict with, our interests and the interests of our other shareholders.

At the date of this Annual Report, affiliates of Tiger Global hold 43.7% of our outstanding ordinary shares. If Tiger Global or other investors acquire or continue to own and control, directly or indirectly, a substantial portion of our voting share capital, even if their respective interests represent less than a majority of our total voting share capital, such shareholders may be able to exert influence over decisions at both the shareholder and board level of our Company. For more information, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions.”

The strategic interests of Tiger Global and the strategic interests of other significant shareholders, including Expedia, may differ from, and conflict with, our interests and the interests of our other shareholders in material respects. In addition, our memorandum and articles of association provides that Expedia and any of our directors affiliated with Expedia do not have any duty to refrain from engaging, directly or indirectly, in the same business activities or similar business activities or lines of business in which we operate.

Tiger Global is in the business of making investments in companies and owns and may, from time to time, acquire or sell interests in businesses that directly or indirectly compete with certain areas of our business or that are our suppliers. In addition, Tiger Global may pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business and, as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us. Additionally, Expedia also competes in the global travel industry, and also acts as a supplier to us and certain of our competitors. For a further description of our relationship with Expedia, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions,” “—Risks Related to our Business—We rely exclusively on Expedia for the hotel and other lodging products that we offer for all countries outside Latin America,” and “Item 16G. Corporate Governance—Differences in Corporate Law—Conflict of Interest.”

We cannot assure you that the actions of Tiger Global and other significant shareholders, including Expedia, will not conflict with our interests or the interests of our other shareholders.

We have not determined any specific use for our net proceeds from our initial public offering and we may use the proceeds in ways with which you may not agree.

The principal purposes of our initial public offering in September 2017 was to increase our financial flexibility and create a public market for our ordinary shares. We have not allocated our net proceeds from our initial public offering to any particular purpose. Rather, our management has considerable discretion in the application of the net proceeds that we received. Our net proceeds may be used for corporate purposes that do not improve our profitability or increase our share price. In addition, net proceeds we received from our initial public offering may be placed in investments that do not produce income or that lose value.

Investors should not unduly rely on market information included in this Annual Report.

Facts, statistics, forecasts and other information included in this Annual Report relating to the Latin America travel and e-commerce markets are derived from various sources, including independent consultant reports, publicly available information, industry publications, official government information and other third-party sources, as well as internal data and estimates. Although we believe that this information is reliable, the information has not been independently verified by us. Additionally, we cannot assure you that the market data included in this Annual Report is compiled or stated on the same basis as may be the case in the United States or elsewhere, particularly as the publication of certain market data for the Latin American region may be relatively newer than in the United States or elsewhere.

 

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In addition, certain data related to the Latin American travel market and the Latin American online travel market includes the purchase of hotel and other travel products by inbound travelers traveling to Latin America, as well as corporate travel. Our customer base, however, is primarily comprised of consumers from Latin America traveling for leisure domestically within their own country of origin, to other countries in the Latin American region, and outside of Latin America. Market data related solely to the travel trends of Latin American consumers is limited. As a result, certain market data included in this Annual Report is being provided to investors to give a general sense of the trends of our industry but such market data does not capture the trends of only our targeted customers.

Accordingly, investors should not place undue reliance on the market information included in this Annual Report.

We are a foreign private issuer under U.S. securities regulations and, as a result, we are not subject to U.S. proxy rules and we are subject to Exchange Act reporting obligations that, to some extent, are more lenient and less frequent than those of a U.S. issuer.

We report under the Exchange Act as a non-U.S. company and a “foreign private issuer,” as such term is defined under U.S. securities regulations. Because we qualify as a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from certain provisions of the Exchange Act that are applicable to U.S. public companies, including (1) the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act; (2) the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and (3) the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing with the SEC of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q containing unaudited financial and other specified information, or current reports on Form 8-K upon the occurrence of specified events. In addition, we are not required to file our annual report on Form 20-F until 120 days after the end of each fiscal year, while U.S. domestic issuers that are accelerated filers are required to file their annual report on Form 10-K within 75 days after the end of each fiscal year. Foreign private issuers are also exempt from Regulation Fair Disclosure, aimed at preventing issuers from making selective disclosures of material information. As a result of the above, even though we are required to furnish reports on Form 6-K disclosing whatever information we have made or are required to make public pursuant to BVI law or distribute to our shareholders and that is material to our Company, you may not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are not foreign private issuers.

We are exempt from certain corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange.

We are exempt from certain corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange, by virtue of being a foreign private issuer. The standards applicable to us are considerably different than the standards applied to U.S. domestic issuers. For instance, we are not required to:

 

    have a majority of our board of directors be independent;

 

    have a compensation committee or a nominating or corporate governance committee;

 

    have regularly scheduled executive sessions with only non-management directors;

 

    have an executive session of solely independent directors each year; or

 

    adopt and disclose a code of business conduct and ethics for directors, officers and employees.

For more information, see “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees — A. Directors and Senior Management.” We have relied on and intend to continue to rely on some of these exemptions. As a result, you may not be provided with the benefits and protections of certain corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange.

 

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We are an “emerging growth company” and the reduced disclosure and attestation requirements applicable to emerging growth companies could make our ordinary shares less attractive to investors.

We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act, and we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not EGCs, including not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for up to five fiscal years after our initial public offering in September 2017. Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act would otherwise require our independent registered public accounting firm to attest to and report on the effectiveness our internal control structure and procedures for financial reporting.

In addition, Section 107 of the JOBS Act also provides that an EGC may take advantage of the extended transition period provided in Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards. In other words, an EGC may delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have elected not to take advantage of the benefits of this extended transition period and, therefore, are subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies. This election is irrevocable.

We will cease to be an EGC upon the earliest of: (1) the last day of the fiscal year during which we have revenue of $1.07 billion or more, (2) the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of our initial public offering in September 2017, (3) the date on which we have issued more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt during the previous three-year period, or (4) when we become a “large accelerated filer,” as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act.

The requirements of being a public company may strain our resources and distract our management.

As a public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act and requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act applicable to a foreign private issuer and EGC. These requirements may place a strain on our systems and resources. The Exchange Act requires that we file annual and current reports with respect to our business and financial condition. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal controls over financial reporting. To maintain and improve the effectiveness of our disclosure and internal controls and procedures, we need to commit significant resources, potentially hire additional staff and provide additional management oversight. We are implementing additional procedures and processes for the purpose of addressing the standards and requirements applicable to public companies. In addition, sustaining our growth also will require us to commit additional management, operational and financial resources to identify new professionals to join our Company and to maintain appropriate operational and financial systems to adequately support expansion. These activities may divert management’s attention from other business concerns, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

We may lose our foreign private issuer status in the future, which could result in significant additional costs and expenses.

We are a “foreign private issuer,” as such term is defined under the Securities Act, and, therefore, we are not required to comply with all the periodic disclosure and current reporting requirements of the Exchange Act and related rules and regulations. Under the Securities Act, the determination of foreign private issuer status is made annually on the last business day of an issuer’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter and, accordingly, the next determination will be made with respect to us on June 30, 2018.

In the future, we would lose our foreign private issuer status if a majority of our shareholders, directors or management are U.S. citizens or residents and we fail to meet additional requirements necessary to avoid loss of foreign private issuer status. Although we have elected to comply with certain U.S. regulatory provisions, our loss of foreign private issuer status would make such provisions mandatory. If we are not a foreign private issuer, we will be required to file periodic reports and registration statements on U.S. domestic issuer forms with the SEC, which are more detailed and extensive than the forms available to a foreign private issuer. For example, the annual report on Form 10-K requires domestic issuers to disclose executive compensation information on an individual basis with specific disclosure regarding the domestic compensation philosophy, objectives, annual total compensation (base salary, bonus and equity compensation) and potential payments in connection with change in control, retirement, death or disability, while the annual report on Form 20-F permits foreign private issuers to disclose compensation information on an aggregate basis. We will also have to

 

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mandatorily comply with U.S. federal proxy requirements, and our executive officers, directors and principal shareholders will become subject to the short-swing profit disclosure and recovery provisions of Section 16 of the Exchange Act. We may also be required to modify certain of our policies to comply with good governance practices associated with U.S. domestic issuers. In addition, we may lose our ability to rely upon exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements on U.S. stock exchanges that are available to foreign private issuers. Such transition and modifications will involve additional costs and may divert our management’s attention from other business concerns, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our internal controls over financial reporting are not yet required to meet all of the standards contemplated by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and failure to achieve and maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act could have a material adverse effect on our business and ordinary share price.

Our internal controls over financial reporting currently do not meet all of the standards contemplated by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that eventually we will be required to meet. Because currently we do not have comprehensive documentation of our internal controls and have not yet tested our internal controls in accordance with Section 404, we cannot conclude in accordance with Section 404 that we do not have a material weakness in our internal controls or a combination of significant deficiencies that could result in the conclusion that we have a material weakness in our internal controls. We will be required to document, review and, if appropriate, improve our internal controls and procedures in anticipation of eventually being subject to the requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which will require annual management assessments of the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting beginning with the filing of our second annual report with the SEC in 2019 and, when we cease to be an EGC, an attestation report by our independent auditors evaluating these assessments.

Matters impacting our internal controls may cause us to be unable to report our financial information on a timely basis and thereby subject us to adverse regulatory consequences, including sanctions by the SEC. There also could be a negative reaction in the financial markets due to a loss of investor confidence in us and the reliability of our consolidated financial statements. Confidence in the reliability of our consolidated financial statements also could suffer if we or our independent registered public accounting firm were to report a material weakness in our internal controls over financial reporting. This could materially adversely affect us and lead to a decline in the price of our ordinary shares.

Future issuances of our ordinary or other classes of shares may cause a dilution in your shareholding.

We may raise additional funding to meet our working capital, capital expenditure requirements for our planned long-term capital needs, or to fund future acquisitions. If such funding is raised through issuance of new equity or equity-linked securities, it may cause a dilution in the percentage ownership of our then existing shareholders.

From time to time we may grant equity-based compensation to our management and employees, which may dilute the value of your ordinary shares.

From time to time, we may grant options or other equity-based compensation to our management and employees.

As of the date of this Annual Report, we have reserved 4,861,777 ordinary shares for issuance under our 2016 Stock Incentive Plan, of which 3,900,000 stock options were issuable upon the exercise of outstanding equity awards and 465,518 RSUs were authorized for granting by our board on March 1, 2018. Furthermore, under our 2015 Stock Option Plan, we also granted 90,626 RSUs, which are outstanding. For more information about our equity-based compensation, see “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees — B. Compensation.”

If our board of directors approves the issuance of new equity incentive plans (or the issuance of additional shares under the existing equity incentive plans), the interests of other shareholders may be diluted.

 

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If securities or industry research analysts do not publish or cease publishing research or reports about our business or if they issue unfavorable commentary or downgrade our ordinary shares, our stock price and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our ordinary shares will rely in part on the research and reports that securities and industry research analysts publish about us, our industry and our business. We do not have any control over these analysts. Our stock price and trading volumes could decline if one or more securities or industry analysts downgrade our ordinary shares, issue unfavorable commentary about us, our industry or our business, cease to cover us or fail to regularly publish reports about us, our industry or our business.

Investors may have difficulty enforcing judgments against us, our directors and management.

We are incorporated under the laws of the BVI and many of our directors and officers reside outside the United States. Moreover, many of these persons do not have significant assets in the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible to effect service of process within the United States upon these persons, or to recover against us or them on judgments of U.S. courts, including judgments predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws.

Furthermore, our memorandum and articles of association include an exclusive jurisdiction clause pursuant to which, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, (i) other than claims specified in clause (ii) below and except as may otherwise be expressly agreed between the Company and a shareholder or between two or more shareholders in relation to the Company, we and all our shareholders agree that the BVI courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all disputes of any kind regarding us and shareholders’ respective investments in us, irrevocably submit to the jurisdiction of the BVI courts, irrevocably waive any objection to the BVI courts being nominated as the forum to hear and determine any such dispute, and undertake and agree not to claim any such court is not a convenient or appropriate forum; and (ii) the federal district courts of the United States of America shall be the exclusive forum for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act, in each case unless our board of directors consents in writing to the selection of an alternative forum.

An award of punitive damages under a U.S. court judgment based upon U.S. federal securities laws is likely to be construed by BVI courts to be penal in nature and therefore unenforceable in the BVI. Further, no claim may be brought in the BVI against us or our directors and officers in the first instance for violation of U.S. federal securities laws because these laws have no extraterritorial application under BVI law and do not have force of law in the BVI. However, a BVI court may impose civil liability, including the possibility of monetary damages, on us or our directors and officers if the facts alleged in a complaint constitute or give rise to a cause of action under BVI law. Moreover, it is unlikely that a court in the BVI would award damages on the same basis as a foreign court if an action were brought in the BVI or that a BVI court would enforce foreign judgments if it viewed the judgment as inconsistent with BVI practice or public policy.

The courts of the BVI would not automatically enforce judgments of U.S. courts obtained in actions against us or our directors and officers, or some of the experts named herein, predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws, or entertain actions brought in the BVI against us or such persons predicated solely upon U.S. federal securities laws. Further, there is no treaty in effect between the United States and the BVI providing for the enforcement of judgments of U.S. courts in civil and commercial matters, and there are grounds upon which BVI courts may decline to enforce the judgments of U.S. courts. Some remedies available under the laws of U.S. jurisdictions, including remedies available under the U.S. federal securities laws, may not be allowed in the BVI courts if contrary to public policy in the BVI. Because judgments of U.S. courts are not automatically enforceable in the BVI, it may be difficult for you to recover against us or our directors and officers based upon such judgments.

Certain types of class or derivative actions generally available under U.S. law may not be available as a result of the fact that we are incorporated in the BVI and the exclusive jurisdiction clause included in our memorandum and articles of association. As a result, the rights of shareholders may be limited.

Shareholders of BVI companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a court of the United States. Furthermore, our memorandum and articles of association include an exclusive jurisdiction clause which, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, will act as a bar to any such action in a court of the United States. In any event, the circumstances in which any such action may be brought, if at all, and the procedures and defenses that may be available in respect to any such action, may result in the rights of

 

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shareholders of a BVI company being more limited than those of shareholders of a company organized in the United States. Accordingly, shareholders may have fewer alternatives available to them if they believe that corporate wrongdoing has occurred. The BVI courts are also unlikely to recognize or enforce against us judgments of courts in the United States based on certain liability provisions of U.S. securities law or to impose liabilities against us, in original actions brought in the BVI, based on certain liability provisions of U.S. securities laws that are penal in nature.

You may have more difficulty protecting your interests than you would as a shareholder of a U.S. corporation.

Our corporate affairs are governed by the provisions of our memorandum and articles of association, as amended and restated from time to time, and by the provisions of applicable BVI law. The rights of shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors and officers under BVI law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedents in some jurisdictions in the United States, and some states (such as Delaware) have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law.

These rights and responsibilities are to a large extent governed by the British Virgin Island Business Companies Act, 2004 as amended from time to time (the “BVI Act”) and the common law of the BVI. The common law of the BVI is derived in part from judicial precedent in the BVI as well as from English common law, which has persuasive, but not binding, authority on a court in the BVI. In addition, BVI law does not make a distinction between public and private companies and some of the protections and safeguards (such as statutory pre-emption rights, save to the extent expressly provided for in the memorandum and articles of association) that investors may expect to find in relation to a public company are not provided for under BVI law.

There may be less publicly available information about us than is regularly published by or about U.S. issuers. Also, the BVI regulations governing the securities of BVI companies may not be as extensive as those in effect in the United States, and the BVI law and regulations regarding corporate governance matters may not be as protective of minority shareholders as state corporation laws in the United States. Therefore, you may have more difficulty protecting your interests in connection with actions taken by our directors and officers or our principal shareholders than you would as a shareholder of a corporation incorporated in the United States.

The laws of BVI provide limited protections for minority shareholders, so minority shareholders will not have the same options as to recourse in comparison to the United States if the shareholders are dissatisfied with the conduct of our affairs.

Under the laws of the BVI there is limited statutory protection of minority shareholders other than the provisions of the BVI Act dealing with shareholder remedies. The principal protections under BVI statutory law are derivative actions, actions brought by one or more shareholders for relief from unfair prejudice, oppression and unfair discrimination and/or to enforce the BVI Act or the memorandum and articles of association. Shareholders are entitled to have the affairs of the company conducted in accordance with the BVI Act and the memorandum and articles of association, and are entitled to payment of the fair value of their respective shares upon dissenting from certain enumerated corporate transactions. For more information, see “Item 10. Additional Information — Memorandum and Articles of Association” and “Item 16G. Corporate Governance — Differences in Corporate Law” below.

There are common law rights for the protection of shareholders that may be invoked, largely dependent on English company law, since the common law of the BVI is limited. Under the general rule pursuant to English company law known as the rule in Foss v. Harbottle, a court will generally refuse to interfere with the management of a company at the insistence of a minority of its shareholders who express dissatisfaction with the conduct of the company’s affairs by the majority or the board of directors. However, every shareholder is entitled to seek to have the affairs of the company conducted properly according to law and the constitutional documents of the company. As such, if those who control the company have persistently disregarded the requirements of company law or the provisions of the company’s memorandum and articles of association, then the courts may grant relief. Generally, the areas in which the courts will intervene are the following: (i) a company is acting or proposing to act illegally or beyond the scope of its authority; (ii) the act complained of, although not beyond the scope of the authority, could only be effected if duly authorized by more than the number of votes which have actually been obtained; (iii) the individual rights of the plaintiff shareholder have been infringed or are about to be infringed; or (iv) those who control the company are perpetrating a “fraud on the minority.”

 

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These rights may be more limited than the rights afforded to minority shareholders under the laws of states in the United States.

There are no pre-emptive rights in favor of holders of ordinary shares so you may not be able to participate in future equity offerings.

There are no pre-emptive rights applicable under our memorandum and articles of association or BVI law in favor of holders of ordinary shares in respect of further issues of shares of any class, other than Expedia’s preemptive rights pursuant to our Shareholder Agreements. See “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions” for more information. Consequently, you will not be entitled under applicable law to participate in any such future offerings of further ordinary shares or any preferred or other classes of shares.

We have no current plans to pay any cash dividends on our ordinary shares.

We currently intend to retain our future earnings, if any, to fund the development and growth of our business. As a result, capital appreciation, if any, of our ordinary shares are likely to be your sole source of gain for the foreseeable future. Consequently, in the foreseeable future, you will likely only experience a gain from your investment in our ordinary shares if the trading price of our ordinary shares increases.

Anti-takeover provisions in our Shareholder Agreements and memorandum and articles of association might discourage, delay or prevent acquisition or other change of control attempts for us that you and/or other of our shareholders might consider favorable.

Certain provisions of our Shareholder Agreements and memorandum and articles of association may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our Company or management that shareholders may consider favorable, including but not limited to the following provisions:

Pursuant to our Shareholder Agreements:

 

    Until September 19, 2020, we may not directly or indirectly issue or transfer any of our securities to certain specified entities that conduct business in the travel industry, and certain of our existing shareholders and their affiliates are also precluded from directly or indirectly transferring any of our securities to such entities, subject to limited exceptions.

 

    Expedia has agreed not to acquire more than 35% of the voting or economic power of our outstanding shares prior to September 19, 2020 except by means of a tender offer that, if consummated, would result in Expedia being the beneficial owner of more than 75% of the voting or economic power of our outstanding shares entitled to vote in the election of the board of directors.

Pursuant to our memorandum and articles of association:

 

    Our board of directors may without prior notice to shareholders, or obtaining any shareholder approval, amend our memorandum and articles of association to authorize and subsequently issue an unlimited number of preferred shares in one or more classes and series and designate the issue prices, rights, preferences, privileges, restrictions and terms of such preferred shares.

 

    Our board of directors is made up of seven directors divided into three classes. Other than the initial terms of each class, which expire at the Company’s annual meeting in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively, directors in each class will have a term of three years. The only circumstance in which shareholders can elect new directors is at an annual meeting and in respect of those board seats whose term is expiring at the annual meeting. Elections will take place by plurality voting. Shareholders do not have the power to increase or reduce the size of the board or fill a vacancy on the board, which matters are the exclusive authority of our board of directors.

 

    Our shareholders may only remove directors for cause and only by resolution approved by shareholders holding not less than two-thirds of the voting rights at a meeting of shareholders called for the stated purpose of removing the director.

 

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    There are a number of restrictions, conditions and other requirements (including advance notice period requirements) that apply to our shareholders’ ability to (i) request special meetings of our shareholders; (ii) nominate persons for election as directors at annual meetings of our shareholders; and (iii) propose other items of business or other matters for consideration at any annual or special meetings of our shareholders.

 

    All resolutions of the shareholders must be adopted at a meeting of our shareholders convened in accordance with our memorandum and articles of association. Shareholders are prohibited from adopting resolutions by written consent.

 

    There are restrictions on amending our memorandum and articles of association. Certain provisions of our memorandum and articles of association (including many of the provisions described above) may only be amended with the approval of both our shareholders and our board of directors. Provisions that may be amended by the shareholders without board approval require the affirmative vote of holders of two-thirds of the shares entitled to vote on the resolution.

For more information on our Shareholder Agreements, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions.” For more information on our memorandum and articles of association, see “Item 10. Additional Information—Memorandum and Articles of Association” and “Item 16G. Corporate Governance—Differences in Corporate Law.”

These provisions and other provisions under BVI law could discourage, delay or prevent potential takeover attempts and other transactions involving a change in control of our Company, including actions that our shareholders may deem advantageous. As such, these provisions may reduce the price that investors might be willing to pay for our ordinary shares in the future and negatively affect the trading price of our ordinary shares.

 

ITEM 4. INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY

 

A. History and Development of the Company

Despegar.com, Corp. was formed as a business company incorporated in the BVI on February 10, 2017. On May 3, 2017, the stockholders of our predecessor, Decolar.com, Inc., a Delaware corporation, exchanged their shares for ordinary shares of Despegar.com, Corp. to create a new BVI holding company. Following the exchange, our shareholders own shares of Despegar.com, Corp., and Decolar.com, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Despegar.com, Corp.

We are known by our two brands, Despegar, our global brand, and Decolar, our Brazilian brand.

Our principal executive office is located at Juana Manso 999, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina C1107CBR, and our telephone number is: +54 11 4894 3500. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Cogency Global Inc., located at 10 E. 40th Street, 10th Floor, New York, New York 10016.

Our History and Development

Our business has grown substantially in revenue, products and geographic scope since launching in 1999. The following table shows the timeline of key milestones:

 

1999

  

•   Launched site in Argentina

2000

  

•   Launched sites in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay

2001

  

•   Launched sites in the United States and Venezuela

2007

  

•   Launched site in Peru

2009

  

•   Expanded our offering to include hotels

  

•   Launched sites in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Puerto Rico

 

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2010

  

•   Launched sites in El Salvador and Honduras, reaching our 20th market

  

•   Cumulative one million customers served

2012

  

•   Launched our mobile apps on Android and iOS

  

•   Expanded offering to include packages, rental cars and cruise products

2013

  

•   Reached one million downloads of our mobile app

  

•   Expanded our offering to include destination services

  

•   Expanded hotel offering to include vacation rentals

2014

  

•   Cumulative 10 million customers served

  

•   Our mobile app is included in the iTunes Store’s “Best of 2014”

  

•   Launched travel affiliates program

  

•   Expanded our offering to include travel insurance

2015

  

•   Reached 10 million downloads of our mobile app

  

•   Completed migration from call center sales to fully online model

  

•   Deepened strategic partnership with Expedia, including its equity investment in our Company

2016

  

•   Awarded “E-commerce Leader in the Tourism Industry in LATAM” by the Latin American E-Commerce Institute

  

•   Expanded our offering to include our bus product

  

•   Expanded our destination services offering to include our local concierge product

2017

  

•   Initial public offering and listing on the New York Stock Exchange

Capital Expenditures

See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—C. Research and Development, Patents and Licenses.”

 

B. Business Overview

Overview

We are the leading online travel company in Latin America, known by our two brands, Despegar, our global brand, and Decolar, our Brazilian brand. We have a comprehensive product offering, including airline tickets, packages, hotels and other travel-related products, which enables consumers to find, compare, plan and purchase travel products easily through our marketplace. We provide our network of travel suppliers a technology platform for managing the distribution of their products and access to our users. We believe that our focus on the underpenetrated Latin American online travel market, our knowledge of the consumer and supplier landscape in the region and our ability to manage the business successfully through economic cycles will allow us to continue our industry leadership. In 2017 and 2016, we had approximately 4.6 million and 4.0 million customers, generating $523.9 million and $411.2 million in revenue, respectively. Our gross bookings were $4.4 billion and $3.3 billion in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

Latin America online travel bookings were approximately $36 billion and $32 billion in 2017 and 2016, respectively, and are expected to grow to approximately $49 billion (in constant terms) by 2021, representing an estimated compound annual growth rate (“CAGR”) of 8.4% for the period 2017 – 2021, according to Euromonitor. In 2017, 36% of all travel bookings were done online, a percentage that is expected to increase to approximately 41% in 2021. Factors driving the growth in online travel bookings include the increase of internet penetration, further adoption of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices and a growing middle class with greater access to banking services and credit products, together enabling a larger segment of the growing population to transact online or on mobile devices.

The Latin American travel industry is characterized by significant fragmentation in suppliers across airlines, hotels and other travel products. This fragmentation is compounded by regional complexities, including differences in language, local customs, travel preferences, currencies and regulatory regimes across the more than 40 countries in the region. These factors create challenges for suppliers to reach customers directly and, consequently, create a significant market opportunity for us.

 

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We believe we have the broadest travel portfolio among OTAs in Latin America, with inventory from global suppliers, including over 300 airlines and over 453,000 hotels, as well as approximately 1,000 car rental agencies and approximately 250 destination services suppliers with more than 7,500 activities.. Our business benefits from network effects: our large customer base helps us to attract additional travel suppliers and, in turn, a larger network of travel suppliers helps us to attract new customers by enhancing our product offering. Additionally, as we continue to grow our marketplace, we are increasingly able to offer more competitive pricing and product availability to our customers as well as enhance the effectiveness of our marketing strategy.

We launched our award-winning mobile travel app in 2012 and it is an increasingly important part of our business, as it allows consumers to access and browse our real-time inventory, compare prices and transact through their mobile devices quickly. As of December 31, 2017, our apps have more than 38 million cumulative downloads from the iOS App Store and Google Play (20.5 million of which were downloaded in the last two years) and we believe they are the most downloaded OTA apps in Latin America. During 2017 and 2016, mobile accounted for approximately 54% and 50%, respectively, of all of our user visits, and approximately 28% and 23%, respectively, of our transactions were purchased on our mobile platform, complementing our desktop website traffic. As internet, smartphone and other mobile device penetration continue to increase, we believe that our strength in mobile will continue to be a strategic advantage.

Through mobile and online marketing, brand promotion and cross-marketing, we have created a strong brand recognition among Latin America travelers, which we view as one of our key competitive advantages. According to data from Google Adwords, Despegar and Decolar had the highest brand recognition among OTAs in Latin America. To date, we have invested more than $1.18 billion in marketing and branding initiatives promoting our brand, which we believe, combined with the quality of the service we have delivered over the years, has made us a trusted brand with our customers. In 2017 and 2016, 64% and 60% of our customers had completed previous purchases on our platform, respectively.

Travel Market Opportunity in Latin America

Latin America is one of the largest and most diverse regions in the world. Comprised of over 40 countries with a total population of over 600 million, the region encompasses multiple languages, currencies and regulatory regimes. The travel market serving Latin American consumers presents a significant opportunity for us due to its large market size, highly fragmented base of travel suppliers and rapid growth in the adoption of technology-based solutions for consumers and travel suppliers. In addition, long-term favorable macroeconomic trends in the region have contributed to the expansion of the middle class and increased consumption in the region.

Large and Growing Travel Industry

Latin American travel bookings (both online and offline) represented an estimated $99 billion market in 2017 and it is expected to grow to approximately $116 billion by 2021, according to Euromonitor. This represents an estimated CAGR of 4.1% for the period 2017 – 2021. In 2017, airline bookings for Latin America were $41 billion while lodging bookings recorded $48 billion. Car rental and attractions bookings in Latin America combined reached $10 billion in 2017.

Overview of Suppliers in the Latin American Travel Industry

The Latin American travel industry is characterized by significant supplier fragmentation across airlines, hotels and other travel products. Regional complexities, including differences in language, local customs, travel preferences, currencies and regulatory regimes across the more than 40 countries in the region create challenges for suppliers to reach customers directly, at scale and across the region. Further driving this fragmentation is the growing number of smaller airlines, including low-cost airlines that have been commencing operation in recent years. Today, travel agencies are the leading distribution channel in the region for airlines, due to their ability to provide greater selection and scale across the region.

We believe that due to a lack of scale or unified brand, other travel services in Latin America tend to be even more fragmented, operating in specific cities or countries.

 

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Trends Driving Online Travel and Our Growth

An expanding and evolving travel market, coupled with greater internet, smartphone and other mobile device penetration, is expected to drive robust growth in online travel bookings in Latin America. Latin America online travel bookings were approximately $36 billion and $32 billion in 2017 and 2016, respectively, and are expected to grow to approximately $49 billion (in constant terms) by 2021, representing an estimated CAGR of 8.4% for the period 2017 – 2021, according to Euromonitor. In 2017, 36% of all travel bookings were done online, a percentage that is expected to increase to approximately 41% in 2021. As consumers shift to researching and booking travel online, travel suppliers have adapted their offerings and deepened their relationships with online marketing and booking channels, such as OTAs, to generate revenue. OTAs provide travel suppliers with scale and distribution into new and existing markets and 24/7 customer service and localization services, including language and payment capabilities. Factors driving the growth in online travel include:

 

    Increasing internet penetration. While internet penetration in Latin America has increased, we believe it has substantial room for growth. As internet penetration increases, Latin American consumers are increasingly using the internet to research and purchase products, including travel.

 

    Increasing adoption of mobile devices. The number of unique mobile subscribers, in Latin America is expected to grow by approximately 110 million new unique subscribers, according to the GSM Association, bringing the total to approximately 524 million in the region by 2020. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, mobile has become a prominent tool for travelers to search, discover and purchase travel services.

 

    Superior user experience. Online travel booking channels, which include websites and mobile apps, empower travelers to search products and user-generated reviews and easily compare real-time availability and pricing options from multiple travel providers simultaneously, which we believe leads to higher user engagement and customer conversion.

 

    Growth in banked consumers and proliferation of credit products. With the continued development of the Latin American economy, a larger portion of the population has opened bank accounts, enabling access to new forms of payments including credit cards and other financial products. With the increased number of consumers with bank and credit card accounts, more people have the ability to make purchases online. Access to bank accounts and credit cards also gives consumers access to additional financing options from banks, such as payment by installments.

As the leading OTA in Latin America, we believe we are well positioned to succeed as consumers’ destination of choice for fast, easily searchable and more transparent travel research and shopping. As our market share grows, we are increasingly able to capture significant amounts of customer data including travel history and preferences and serve personalized recommendations to drive higher customer conversion. Additionally, we are able to provide better pricing through scale and by bundling multiple travel products together in a single offer.

Our Competitive Strengths

We are the leading OTA in Latin America, offering our customers a broad and diversified selection of travel products at attractive prices. Our leadership position is a result of our following core strengths:

Industry Leader in Latin America

With our launch in 1999, we have benefited from an early mover advantage in Latin America, which has allowed us to achieve significant scale and brand awareness. In 2017 and 2016, we had approximately 4.6 million and 4.0 million customers, primarily in Latin America, generating $523.9 million and $411.2 million in revenue and approximately $4.4 billion and $3.3 billion, respectively, in gross bookings.

We have established relationships with a large and growing network of travel suppliers in Latin America and we have become the leading online air ticketing provider in Latin America, having sold approximately 17% and 15% of all airline tickets purchased through GDS in the region during 2017 and 2016, respectively, according to Amadeus. Additionally, we believe we provide our customers with the largest travel portfolio among Latin American OTAs, with access to over 300 global airlines and over 453,000 hotels globally as well as approximately 1,000 car rental agencies and approximately 250 destination services suppliers with more than

 

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7,500 activities. Additionally, we have accumulated approximately ten million user-generated reviews in total as of December 31, 2017, of which 2.1 million and 1.9 million were submitted in 2017 and 2016, respectively, which we believe drive user engagement. Our platform is also of increasing importance to airlines based outside of Latin America, which generally have a limited local presence in the region, and which account for over 70% of the outbound international travel booked on our platform. Such international travel is more attractive because of its price point and higher commission structure.

Our technology platform allows us to offer our customers the ability to create custom packages of two or more products, such as a combination of airfare and a hotel booking for a particular trip, allowing us to offer customers lower combined prices that may not be available for individual products. We are also able to better cross-sell multiple travel products and provide customers with a comprehensive solution for their travel needs.

We benefit from network effects: our large customer base helps us to attract additional travel suppliers and, in turn, a larger network of travel suppliers helps us to attract new customers by enhancing our product offering. Furthermore, by growing our user base and aggregating different products from our supplier base, we are able to offer attractive pricing and availability of travel products to our customers as well as enhance the effectiveness of our marketing strategy.

Strong Brand Recognition and Awareness

Despegar, our global brand, and Decolar, our Brazilian brand, have leading brand awareness in online travel in key markets, including Brazil and Argentina. According to search engine trend data that is based on the relative number of searches of brand related keywords on Google during 2017, we had an approximate 27% share (as compared with what we believe to be the next five largest competitors in the market) in Latin America.

Local Market Expertise and Leadership

We have a strong track record in Latin America, with a point of sale in 20 markets, representing 95% of the region’s population, and with a leading OTA presence in key markets such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and Colombia. In our two largest markets, Brazil and Argentina, we have operated for 18 and 19 years, respectively. Our knowledge of local consumers, and their buying patterns and travel preferences, as well as our ability to offer financing through our relationships with financial institutions, have enabled us to serve our customers more effectively than global competitors from outside the region. Furthermore, our extensive supplier relationships allow us to offer a greater scale and breadth of offerings than smaller, local competitors. We understand the objectives of, and challenges faced by, Latin American travel suppliers and we are well-positioned to address those challenges by helping the suppliers grow their businesses, all to the benefit of consumers who receive more choice at attractive pricing.

As the leading Latin American OTA, we have developed long-standing relationships with a wide range of local banks to offer installment payment plans to their credit card holders as an alternative purchase option. We believe that local banks look to partner with us because of our scale, access to our online audience and high transaction volume. We believe this differentiates us from other local and global travel agencies as those agencies either do not offer installment plans or offer installment plans from a more limited selection of financing providers or in a more limited selection of countries. We believe our portfolio of installment plans is a meaningful driver of traffic to our platform as well as conversion. Approximately 55% of our transactions in both 2017 and 2016 were paid by installment. Our agreements with local banks allow us to offer installment plans without assuming collection risk from the customer.

Leading Mobile Offering

Mobile is an increasingly important part of our business, as consumers are quickly able to access and browse our real-time travel offerings, compare prices and make purchases through their mobile devices. We launched our leading mobile travel apps in 2012. As of December 31, 2017, our mobile apps have more than 38,4 million cumulative downloads from the iOS App Store and Google Play (10 million of which were downloaded in the last two years) and we believe they are the most downloaded OTA apps in Latin America 2012 to 2016. In addition, our iOS App Store and Google Play apps were rated 4.5 and 4.4 stars as of December 31, 2017. During 2017 and 2016, mobile, which includes both mobile web and our mobile apps, accounted for approximately 54% and 50%, respectively, of all of our user visits, and approximately 28% and 23%, respectively, of our transactions. In addition, transactions via mobile increased by approximately 5% from 2016 compared to 2017. We continue to provide innovative features and functionality to consumers through our mobile apps, including

 

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push notifications, dynamic updates, inventory alerts and personalized promotions as well as in-app customer service. Our customers using mobile devices have historically made more repeat transactions than customers using desktop computers. Additionally, our mobile presence allows in-destination marketing, which facilitates cross-selling of additional travel products, such as rental cars and destination services to customers, after they have arrived at their destination.

Many of our customers use their mobile device to search for travel products but complete their transactions on their desktop. However, as mobile purchasing becomes increasingly prevalent in the region, we believe our award-winning mobile platform, coupled with the widespread adoption of our apps, positions us well for an increasingly mobile future.

Powerful Data and Analytics Platform

Our large web and mobile audience and transaction volume generate a significant amount of data that allows us to better understand our customers and provide personalized travel offerings and also helps us to drive our sales, marketing and operational strategy. To offer the most effective content and products for each customer, we extensively analyze the data we collect to identify and highlight the most valuable products and destinations in each customer interaction. By gathering and analyzing data in real-time, we are quickly able to assess and react to changes in customer behavior, market pricing and other market dynamics. Currently, the majority of visitors to our platform see a personalized landing page based on such factors as user account information, past search and purchasing history and geolocation. We believe that this personalization of the user experience increases engagement and likelihood of purchase.

Effective Marketing Capabilities

We have invested significant resources in our marketing team, which we believe is a significant driver of our business. Through our vertically-integrated, in-house marketing team, we are able to control all aspects of our budget, marketing campaigns and market analytics, without the need for agencies or external consultants. Our marketing team’s local knowledge and expertise in our key markets have allowed us to develop direct relationships with a broad range of local and regional media providers and purchase media directly, avoiding more costly intermediaries. We have invested in our own creative, production and media execution teams, who are quickly able to adapt our marketing strategy, while also leveraging our extensive data and analytics capabilities for more precise audience targeting. Furthermore, we have developed our own software platform for managing our search optimization capabilities, allowing us to tailor messages effectively for specific target markets and customers.

Proven and Experienced Team

Our management team has significant experience in the travel sector and across a variety of industries in Latin America. Members of our management team have worked at organizations such as Expedia, Kimberly-Clark, LATAM Airlines, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, PwC and Thales, among others. In addition to our management team, we have an extensive technology team including more than 800 developers and technology professionals. By fostering a distinctive, collaborative and high-performance working culture, we attract software developers with world-class talent and offer an engaging working environment for ongoing career development. We believe we are perceived as a top talent recruiter for IT professionals in Latin America, allowing us to attract the highest quality professionals and specialists dedicated to the enhancement of our platform.

Our Strategy

Our goal is to further expand our leading position, continue to innovate by better serving customer and supplier needs and increase our profitability with the following key strategies:

Continue to Grow and Develop Our Customer Base in Latin America

We believe there are significant opportunities to expand further our customer base in the region and, at the same time, increase our share of total travel spend by our customers. During 2017, approximately 4.6 million customers transacted on our platform and approximately 64% of our customers had completed previous purchases on our platform, compared to 4.0 million customers and 60% of our transactions, respectively, in 2016. Furthermore, we believe that our personalized customer experience, comprehensive product offering and high-impact marketing, such as online advertising, television, radio and print media will allow us to continue to drive repeat purchases and attract new customers to our platform.

 

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Continue to Enhance Our Product Offerings

We believe that we can grow our business by further tailoring and expanding our product offering to address the needs of new and existing customers. For example, in recent years, we have launched new products, including travel insurance, bus trips, vacation rentals, and our local concierge product, in several of our existing markets. We believe this strategy can also be replicated in additional markets. We are continuing to expand our installment payments plan and add other payment options, such as debit cards and acceptance of multiple credit cards in a single transaction, as well as several market-specific localized payment options, to attract more customers to our platform and improve purchase conversion at checkout.

Increase Cross-Selling

We plan to grow our revenue by further capitalizing on our large scale, high volume traffic and technology to continue to increase cross-selling. We believe there is significant room to grow our packages, hotels and other travel products businesses through focused marketing and cross-selling initiatives, such as offering exclusive discounts on related products upon checkout, targeted post-sale emails and personalized in-destination mobile marketing with offers for additional travel products that may be relevant to customers’ initial purchase.

Expand and Deepen Supplier Relationships

We plan to expand our supplier base as well as deepen our relationships with suppliers. We intend to continue to provide access to our broad customer base and offer multiple rate plans and package deals, to drive demand for our suppliers’ products and help them grow their businesses. We will also continue to invest in our software to offer our suppliers tools to better manage their inventory.

Continue to Invest in Our Mobile Offering

We will continue to invest in our mobile platform by launching new mobile features and functionality. Additionally, we will continue to invest in mobile-focused marketing in order to augment our app downloads and mobile conversion, which we believe represents a significant growth opportunity for our business. Through mobile-only rates, personalized packaged products and in-destination targeted marketing through our mobile apps, we offer our customers an attractive range of travel products in an efficient manner. We believe that by taking a mobile first approach and providing customers with the ability to use the latest mobile technology, such as account recognition, in-app customer service, automated payment options, location-based targeting and highly-targeted push and in-app notifications, will allow us to continue to accelerate our mobile growth.

Focus on Operational Efficiency

We have invested aggressively over the years to scale our operations and support the growth of our business. We intend to continue enhancing the infrastructure and technology that support our platform in order to facilitate the best product offering, provide reliable site performance and ensure high quality customer service by promptly processing requests and frequently monitoring performance.

We also plan to invest in initiatives to promote further automation and improve efficiency, which will simplify our operations and reduce costs. We will continue to define and implement fraud-prevention strategies, and invest in tools to minimize both fraud exposure and legitimate sales rejections. Moreover, we will continue our focus on minimizing fulfillment leakage and costs by improving internal processes and supplier inventory integration, as we believe there is significant opportunity to capture additional growth in these areas.

Opportunistically Pursue Strategic Acquisitions

We may expand our business through opportunistic acquisitions that enable us to enhance our customer offerings, build our marketplace, enter new geographies or enhance our operational infrastructure. We may also consider acquiring additional technology capabilities through alliances and partnerships. We believe our industry and operational experience and our open and collaborative culture will help us to integrate acquired businesses.

 

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Our Customers

We had approximately 4.6 million and 4.0 million customers for 2017 and 2016, respectively, primarily in Latin America. Our customers are primarily from Latin America traveling domestically within their own country of origin, to other countries in the Latin American region, and outside of Latin America. Most of our customers are traveling for leisure, although we do have some independent business travelers as well.

Our Products

We offer a wide range of travel and travel-related products catering to the needs of Latin Americans traveling domestically within their own country of origin, to other countries in the Latin American region and outside of Latin America. We provide these travelers with the comprehensive tools and information, in multiple languages, that they need to research, plan, book and purchase travel products efficiently. That information includes approximately ten million user-generated reviews in total as of December 31, 2017, of which 2.1 million and 1.9 million were submitted in 2017 and 2016, respectively. We organize our business into two segments: (1) Air, which consists of the sale of airline tickets, and (2) Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products, which consists of travel packages (which can include airline tickets and hotel rooms), as well as stand-alone sales of hotel rooms (including vacation rentals), car rentals, bus tickets, cruise tickets, travel insurance and destination services. We offer our products online through our website and mobile applications, and use data and analytics to personalize the customer experience on our platform, based on geolocation, past search and purchasing history and social network interactions, which we believe increases engagement and likelihood of purchase.

Air

Through our Air segment, we offer airline tickets, primarily targeted at leisure travelers in Latin America, including travel domestically, to other countries in the region and outside of Latin America. Our Air segment includes airline tickets purchased on a stand-alone basis but excludes airline tickets that are packaged with other non-airline flight products. Our customers booked approximately 5.3 million, 4.3 million and 4.4 million transactions in our Air segment using our platform in 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.

We provide our customers with access to over 300 full service and low-cost airlines. We obtain inventory from these airlines either through a GDS or, primarily in the case of low cost airlines, via direct connections to the airlines’ booking systems. We believe our platform provides comprehensive information to our customers in a time efficient and transparent manner. Customers are quickly and easily able to evaluate a broad range of fares and airline combinations. Customers may search for flights based on their preferred travel dates, destinations, number of passengers, number of stops and class of travel, or they may use our more advanced search tool and include additional search parameters. Customers can also filter and sort the results of their search easily according to their preferences.

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products

The total number of transactions in our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment was 3.7 million, 3.0 million and 3.3 million in 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.

Packages

We offer travelers the opportunity to create custom packages by combining two or more travel products, such as airline tickets and hotel, airline tickets and car rental or hotel and car rental, and booking them in a single transaction. Combining multiple products into a package with a single quoted price allows us to offer customers lower prices than are available for individual products and also helps us to cross-sell multiple products in a single transaction.

Hotels

Through our platform, customers can search, compare and book reservations at more than 453,000 hotels globally through our direct network and third-party inventory. In addition, since 2013 our hotels offering includes vacation rentals.

Customers may search for hotels based on their destination and preferred dates for check-in and checkout, and may filter and sort our search results easily by selecting star ratings, specific hotel chains and location.

 

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Customers can also indicate amenity preferences such as business services, internet access, fitness centers, swimming pools and more. Customers can also view hotel pictures and read hotel reviews from other Despegar customers on our platform. Our platform features approximately ten million user-generated reviews in total as of December 31, 2017, of which 2.1 million and 1.9 million were generated in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

As of December 31, 2017, approximately 26,000 of our hotel suppliers in Latin America were directly connected to our booking system. Through these direct connections, our hotel suppliers allocate rooms to us either by managing their room inventory directly on an extranet supported by us, or on an extranet supported by one of our more than 35 third-party channel managers.

In 2017 and 2016, 9.1% and 9.3%, respectively, of our gross bookings were attributable to supply provided to us by affiliates of Expedia. Expedia, the beneficial owner of 13.9% of our ordinary shares outstanding as of December 31, 2017, holds certain rights in its capacity as a shareholder. For more information on our relationships with Expedia, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions —B. Related Party — Relationship with Expedia” for more information.

We typically do not assume inventory risk as we do not pre-purchase hotel room inventory from our hotel suppliers. Hotel suppliers are paid by one of two methods: “pre-pay” and “pay at destination.” Under the pre-pay model, the customer pays us at the time of booking and we pay the hotel after the customer checks out. Under the pay-at-destination model, the customer pays the hotel directly at checkout and we either receive our commission from the hotel or from the customer as a customer booking fee.

Other Travel Products

We also offer other travel products on our platform. We provide our customers access to approximately 1,000 car rental agencies, more than 200 bus carriers, six cruise carriers, approximately 250 destination services suppliers with more than 7,500 activities, and two travel insurance suppliers. While we offer both pre-pay and pay-at-destination options for car rentals, the other travel products that we offer must be prepaid.

Destination Services: We introduced the sale of destination services in 2013. We offer in-destination services as an opportunity for us to offer attractions, tickets, tours and activities and local concierge services to package with other products and as a way to encourage in-destination transactions. The wide array of options offered is intended to suit varying budgets and preferences of potential customers.

Car Rentals: We introduced car rentals in 2012. Currently, we offer car rentals worldwide, with a focus in Latin America and the United States.

Cruise Tickets: We introduced the sale of cruise tickets in 2012. Currently, cruise tickets are available to customers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. We currently have relationships with six cruise carriers.

Travel Insurance: We introduced travel insurance products in 2014. We offer travel insurance products in all of our markets except Venezuela and Costa Rica through two third-party providers in Latin America, Assist Card and Travel Ace Assistance. Customers can choose from a range of coverage options depending on their particular needs, such as medical insurance and lost or damaged baggage. Typically, this product is requested in conjunction with a flight and hotel booking. Prior to confirming and proceeding with the reservation of and payment for a flight or hotel booking or a package booking, our customers are offered the opportunity to purchase travel insurance.

Bus Tickets: We introduced the sale of bus tickets within Latin America in January 2016. Currently, bus tickets are available only in Brazil and Argentina, and we intend to expand our coverage further to major cities in Latin America. We currently have relationships with three suppliers that give us access to more than 200 bus carriers.

In addition, we sell digital advertising on our platform.

Payment Options

Credit cards are the primary means of payment for products on our platform. We allow for the use of more than one credit card in a single transaction, permitting customers with lower credit limits to make larger purchases. We also offer other payment alternatives including debit cards as well as several localized payment options by market.

 

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In addition, we have established agreements with a wide range of local and regional banks that allow their credit card holders to purchase our travel products via installment purchase plans, which we believe differentiates us from other global travel agencies which either do not offer installment plans or offer installment plans from a more limited selection of financing providers or in a more limited selection of countries. Local banks look to partner with us because of our scale, access to our online audience and high transaction volume. Credit card customers may choose from a range of installment plan offerings and terms from different financial institutions with which the customer holds or obtains a credit card. Many of these installment plan offerings are interest-free to the customer. Installment plans allow our customers to make larger purchases than they may otherwise be able to make in a single payment. Our agreements with local banks allow us to offer installment payment plans without assuming collection risk from the customer and receive payment in full (provided we choose not to factor such installment payments). When customers make purchases using installment plans, the facilitating bank bears the risk that the customer will make the required installment payments. In all markets except Brazil, we typically receive payment in less than one month after booking. In Brazil, we generally receive payment from the installment financing bank only after each scheduled payment due date from the customer (whether or not the customer makes the scheduled payments to the bank). In some cases, we elect to factor or discount these longer-term Brazilian installment receivables, allowing us to receive the payment of the purchase price more quickly. Approximately 55% of our transactions in both 2017 and 2016 were completed using an installment plan.

Marketing and Affiliates

Marketing

We execute a multi-channel marketing strategy. Through this effort, we have created a long-standing brand that is associated with superior travel products, high quality services and competitive prices in Latin America. We have an experienced in-house marketing team dedicated to delivering efficient allocation of time and resources across media channels, without relying on outside agencies or consultants. Key elements of our marketing strategy include:

In-house Teams. We have teams dedicated to: audiovisual content generation across online and offline channels; negotiation with media and agencies to control budget; performance trends and market analysis through strong data analytics; and targeted campaign monitoring.

Buy Direct. Through our direct relationships with key media suppliers throughout Latin America, we believe we are able to secure highly competitive rates across the region, without unnecessary interaction with intermediaries.

“Always On” Strategy. We have 24/7 continuity of marketing campaigns through a combination of online, television, radio, print and other channels tailored for every country and market. We run campaigns to drive maximum awareness, and we use a multi-channel approach in our top markets.

Cross-Device Insights and Custom Attribution Model and Bidding Tools. We measure marketing success across all media channels and devices by reconstructing the user’s marketing path across devices and applying our custom attribution model that feeds our optimization strategy. We have also developed proprietary tools to optimize our investment in search engine marketing (“SEM”) campaigns for Google Adwords by tracking sources of traffic and attributing a percentage of conversions to each event in a user’s marketing path.

Focus on Efficient Use of Media. We continuously analyze the minimum frequency needed on each media channel to deliver targeted marketing messages, events and promotions to customers based on the specific demographics of each market.

Promotions and Sales. We focus aggressively on promotions including discounts, holiday campaigns and financing options. Our technology-driven marketing allows us to dynamically optimize promotions on a daily basis. Some of our recurring promotions are included below:

 

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LOGO   LOGO    LOGO    LOGO    LOGO    LOGO   

Affiliates

We have relationships with a network of 8,800 affiliates, including travel agents, airlines, websites and other third parties such as online and offline retailers, in seven countries across Latin America. Our agreements with these affiliates allows them to access our product inventory directly through our platform or through our application program interface (“API”). We believe our affiliate program is attractive because we provide access to a range of travel products that our affiliates otherwise may not be able to access cost-effectively or at all. Our affiliates earn commissions from us depending on country and type of products sold. Furthermore, our affiliate program allows us to expand our footprint in Latin America and distribution network in a cost-effective manner.

Customer Service

Customer experience is a key focus for our business and we believe this is reflected in our strong brand recognition and loyalty throughout Latin America. We emphasize providing personalized support throughout the customer purchase cycle, including automated web-based support and support from live customer service representatives.

In addition to our customer service centers in Brazil and Colombia, we rely on outsourced services to provide 24/7 support to our customers for issues that cannot be resolved through our platform. Our customer service facilities in Brazil are dedicated to our Portuguese-speaking customers, while our customer service facilities in Colombia serve Spanish-speaking customers. Many of our customer service staff at these facilities speak English in addition to Portuguese and/or Spanish. We also have a team of customer service staff dedicated specifically to addressing urgent customer needs, primarily those of customers that are in-destination.

To control expenditures related to customer support, we also outsource certain functions to international call center service providers. These outsourced customer service providers support our internal call center operations and improve our ability to support customers around the world.

We also have implemented comprehensive performance measures to monitor our calls to ensure that our customers receive quality service. In addition, as a part of our customer experience we maintain a database containing customer transactions and user preferences for each customer who has booked services through us in order to provide customized support and offerings in the future. We believe that the design of our existing systems can scale to meet further increases in call volume.

Technology and Data

We use our technology platform to improve the customer experience and optimize the efficiency of our business operations. We have successfully built an innovative technology culture that we believe is unique in Latin America and enables us to attract and retain some of the best talent in the region. We employ more than 800 dedicated technology professionals. We actively recruit and train these highly-skilled technology professionals and many of our current technology managers started in our training program.

We own our technology platform, which is comprised of applications that we develop in-house using primarily open source software. Our technology team has adopted a continuous improvement, high-frequency testing approach to our business, aimed at improving both traffic and conversion rates, while maintaining reliability.

Our platform is engineered to provide a personalized and secure experience to our customers. We invest heavily in understanding our customers’ behavior and intentions through a combination of detailed behavioral data collection and machine learning algorithms. Our machine learning algorithms also help us detect fraud attempts. We collect, maintain and analyze behavioral data from all the devices our customers are using to interact with our platform. The insights derived from the analysis of this data form the basis of our enhanced conversion strategies. We use email, social media marketing and retargeting campaigns to remind customers of their searches.

 

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We believe our technology can scale to accommodate significantly higher volumes of site traffic, customers, bookings and the overall growth in our business. We routinely test and expand the capacity of our servers so we are prepared to provide our customers with uninterrupted access to our sites during periods with high levels of user traffic, such as when we are offering promotions. Our information technology platform employs a horizontal architecture, which allows us to increase our processing capacity by adding more hardware in parallel with our existing servers. With this structure, we can grow our platform to accommodate the growth of our business with minimal disruption to the operation of our customer-facing platform and without having to replace our existing equipment.

Our system has been designed around an open architecture with a focus on robust reliability to reduce downtime in the event of outages or catastrophic occurrences. Our platform provides 24/7 availability, except during twice-monthly planned maintenance periods. Our system hardware, which we own, is hosted by a third-party data center in Miami, Florida, which also provides redundant communications lines and emergency power backup.

We believe our technology infrastructure is an important asset due to its robustness, cost-effectiveness and scalability. We continuously evaluate, research and develop new services, platforms infrastructure, and software to improve and solidify our technological systems further and provide a reliable, personalized, fast and secure experience to our customers.

For more information, see “—Intellectual Property” and “Item 3. Key Information — D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We may not be able to adequately protect and enforce our intellectual property rights; and we could potentially face claims alleging that our technologies infringe the property rights of others.”

Security, Privacy and Anti-Fraud

We are committed to operating a secure online business. We use various security methods in an effort to protect the integrity of our networks and the confidential data collected and stored on our servers. For example, we use firewalls to protect access to our networks and to the servers and databases on which we store confidential data; we restrict access to our network by virtual private network (“VPN”) with two-factor authentication and conduct periodic audits of data access and modifications of our network; and we use password-protected encryption technology to protect our communication channels and sensitive customer data. In addition, we have developed and use internal policies and procedures to protect the personal information of our customers, and we comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (“PCI DSS”). To enforce our security framework we have a dedicated cybersecurity team that conducts penetration testing and application security analysis, develops policies and standards, and ensures compliance with those policies and standards.

We believe that issues relating to privacy and the use of personally identifiable information are becoming increasingly important as the internet and its commercial use continue to grow. We have adopted what we believe is a detailed privacy policy that complies with local legal requirements in each of the Latin American countries in which we operate and outlines the information that we collect concerning our users and how we use it. Users must acknowledge and expressly agree to this policy when registering with our platform, signing up for our newsletters, or making a purchase.

Although we send marketing communications to our users periodically, we use our best efforts to ensure that we respect users’ communication preferences. For example, when users register with us, they can opt out of receiving marketing e-mails from us. Users can modify their communication preferences at any time in the “My Account” section of our sites.

We use information about our users for internal purposes in order to improve marketing and promotional efforts and in order to improve our content, product offerings and site layout. We may also disclose information about our users in response to legal requirements. All information is stored on our servers located in Miami, Florida.

Moreover, we are committed to detecting and deterring possible instances of fraudulent transactions before they are completed. The key components of our fraud-prevention strategy include: (1) a dedicated and specialized fraud prevention team that works closely with our IT staff; (2) engagement with key actors in the online travel industry, such as banks and airlines, which strengthens our early-detection capabilities, thereby reducing the exposure period to potential fraud events; and (3) machine learning systems that analyze multiple factors, including intelligence gathered from our industry relationships, to help us adapt better to changing market conditions and detect and address fraudulent transactions. Our in-house team works with third-party vendors, allowing us to leverage best practices and scale quickly.

 

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Competition

We operate in a highly competitive and evolving market. Travelers have a range of options, both online and offline, to research, find, compare, plan and book air, packages, hotels and other travel products.

Our competitors include:

 

    global OTAs with presence in Latin America, such as Booking.com and Expedia and travel metasearch sites;

 

    search websites and apps, such as Google and its travel businesses, and e-commerce and group buying websites and apps;

 

    alternative accommodation and vacation rental businesses, such as Airbnb;

 

    local offline travel agency chains and tour operators, such as CVC Brasil Operadora e Agência de Viagens; and

 

    smaller online travel agencies lacking a pan-regional presence.

In addition, our customers have the option to book travel directly with travel suppliers, including airlines, hotels and other travel service providers via online and offline channels. See “Item 3. Key Information — D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We operate in a highly competitive and evolving market, and pressure from existing and new companies may adversely affect our business and results of operations” for more information.

We believe that the primary competitive factors in the travel industry, in particular as consumers increasingly research, plan and book travel online, are, among other things, brand recognition, price, availability and breadth of choice of travel services and products, customer service, ease of use, fees charged to travelers, accessibility and reliability. We believe our brands, scale, operational and technological capabilities, including our local knowledge and marketing expertise, provide us with a sustainable competitive advantage.

Intellectual Property

We regard our intellectual property as critical to our future success and rely on a combination of trademark laws and contractual restrictions to establish and protect our proprietary rights in our products. Our intellectual property includes trademarks and domain names associated with the names “Despegar.com” and “Decolar.com.” To protect our platform and technology, we have entered into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and certain contractors and suppliers. We own our technology platform, which is comprised of applications that we develop in-house using primarily open source software. We have not registered our technology, however, because we believe it would be difficult to replicate and that it is adequately protected by the agreements we have in place. Additionally, our technology is constantly evolving and any registration may run the risk of protecting outdated technology. We cannot assure you that all our intellectual property is fully protected and enforceable vis-à-vis third parties under all applicable laws in Latin America. For more information, see “Item 3. Key Information — D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Business—We may not be able to adequately protect and enforce our intellectual property rights; and we could potentially face claims alleging that our technologies infringe the property rights of others.”

In addition, we are the registrar for certain generic Top-Level Domains (“gTLDs”), namely “.hoteles”, “.vuelos” and “.passagens”. The gTLDs “.hoteles” and “.vuelos” have already completed the sunrise period, while “.passagens” is yet to begin the process.

Seasonality

See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects — Operating Results.”

 

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Regulation

Regulations Related to the Travel Industry

The laws and regulations applicable to the travel industry affect us and our travel suppliers in the jurisdictions in which we operate, the jurisdictions in which our customers reside and the jurisdictions of their destinations. We are also required to be accredited by the International Air Transport Association (“IATA”) in order to promote and sell tickets for airlines connected to IATA.

Brazil

In addition to the standard licenses and permits required for all companies to operate in the travel industry in Brazil, we are subject to a specific registration of tourism providers with the Ministry of Tourism (“CADASTUR”). In Brazil, there are four main norms that govern the activities related to tourism, as well as the enrollment of services providers in the tourism industry: (i) Law No. 11,771/2008, which regulates the National Tourism Policy and defines the responsibilities of the federal government in planning, developing and stimulating the tourism sector; (ii) Decree No. 7,381/2010, which regulates Law No. 11,771/2008; (iii) Ordinance No. 130/2011 from the Ministry of Tourism, which establishes the CADASTUR, the CADASTUR’s consulting committee and regulates other measures; and (iv) Law No. 12,974/2014, which regulates the activities of tourism agencies.

Argentina

As a travel agency in Argentina, Despegar.com.ar must be registered with the Registry of Travel Agents (Registro de Agentes de Viajes) created by Section 5 of Decree No. 2,182/72. The local regulation on commercial tourism activities is comprised of: (i) Law 25,997 and its applicable regulation which governs the development and promotion of tourism in Argentina; (ii) Law 18,829 which defines the regulations applicable to travel agents; (iii) the resolutions issued by the Secretariat of Tourism; and (iv) Law 24,240 as amended, which sets forth the provisions for the protection of consumers.

Regulations that apply to the E-Commerce Industry

We are also subject to a variety of laws, decrees and regulations that affect companies conducting business on the internet in the countries where we operate related to e-commerce, electronic or mobile payments; data collection; data protection; privacy; information requirements for internet providers; taxation (including value added taxes (“VAT”) or sales tax collection obligations); obligations to provide information to certain authorities; and other legislation which also applies to other companies conducting business in general. It is not clear how existing laws in Latin America governing issues such as general commercial activities, property ownership, copyrights and other intellectual property issues, taxation, consumer protection, digital signatures and personal privacy, apply to online businesses. Some of these laws were adopted before the internet was available and, as a result, do not contemplate or address the unique issues of the internet. Due to these areas of legal uncertainty, and the increasing popularity and use of the internet and other online services in our markets, it is possible that new laws and regulations will be adopted with respect to the internet or other online services. These regulations could cover a wide variety of issues, including e-commerce; internet service providers’ responsibility for third-party content hosted in their servers; user privacy; electronic or mobile payments; pricing, content and quality of products and services; taxation (including VAT or sales tax collection obligations, obligation to provide certain information about transactions that occurred through our platform, or about our users); advertising; intellectual property rights; consumer protection and information security. See “Item 3. Key Information — D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Business—We process, store and use personal information, card payment information and other consumer data, which subjects us to risks stemming from possible failure to comply with governmental regulation and other legal obligations” and “Item 3. Key Information — D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to our Business—Internet regulation in the countries where we operate is scarce, and several legal issues related to the internet are uncertain” for more information.

Brazil

Resolution (Circular) issued by the Central Bank of Brazil No. 3,682 regulates the payment arrangement (arranjos de pagamento) services in Brazil (“Payment Arrangement Services Rule”). On July 27, 2017 and March 26, 2018, the Central Bank of Brazil revoked and amended certain provisions and included new provisions to the Payment Arrangement Services Rule, which introduced a definition of subaccrediting entities (subrecendiador) and determined that all participants of the payment arrangements should be subject to a centralized settlement system not later than September 28, 2018.

 

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Pursuant to Payment Arrangement Services Rule, subaccrediting entity is defined as a party of the payment arrangement that accredits a recipient to accept a payment instrument issued by a payment institution or a financial institution that is a party to the same payment arrangement, but that does not participate in the settlement process of transactions as creditor in relation to the issuer. In addition, the rule sets forth that the submission to the centralized settlement system is optional if the amount of transactions performed by each subaccrediting entity does not exceed R$500,000,000 (approximately $150,000,000) in a period of 12 months.

The definition of subaccrediting entity provided by the Payment Arrangement Services Rule is not precise enough to confirm that our Brazilian subsidiary would be subject to it.

We have been carrying on a series of discussions with the Central Bank of Brazil, financial institutions and other participants involved in the payments arrangements in order to obtain the necessary clarifications. However, the application of the Payment Arrangement Services Rule to our Brazilian subsidiary, although still unclear, could negatively impact the working capital of our business in Brazil.

Regulations Related to Consumer and Data Protection

We are subject to consumer and data protection laws in every country where we have a website.

Brazil

There are several laws in Brazil dealing with privacy and data protection, including: (i) the Brazilian Federal Constitution, which provides for the protection of individuals’ fundamental and inviolable rights of intimacy/privacy, private life and image; (ii) the Brazilian Civil Code (Law No. 10,406/2002), which reaffirms the Federal Constitution’s provision of fundamental rights, and provides for the right to act against violators in order to cease the violation and seek compensation for suffered damage; (iii) the Consumer Protection and Defense Code (Law No. 8,078/1990), which provides for consumer-related databases, data collection and penalties related therewith; (iv) the Brazilian Internet Act (Law No. 12,965/2014), which establishes principles, guarantees, rights and obligations related to the use of the internet in Brazil; and (v) the Brazilian Internet Act Regulation (Decree No. 8,771/2016), which sets forth security standards to be complied with by internet connection and application providers (online platform operators) when storing personal data.

Brazilian consumer protection authorities and courts take the view that the express consent of the consumer must be obtained before the collection, treatment, sharing and transmission of personal data. With regard to data collection, the Brazilian Internet Act provides that personal data collection, use, storage, sharing, transmission and treatment must be authorized previously and expressly by the individual, consistent with the general privacy principle set forth by the Federal Constitution and Consumer Defense Code. For the purposes of the Brazilian Internet Act and its regulation, personal data is deemed any data related to an identified or identifiable individual, including identifying numbers, location data or electronic identifiers, when related to an individual.

In addition, Law No. 9,507/1997 regulates privacy requirements and the habeas data process, by which individual citizens can ask a court to issue an order to protect, correct or remove their personal data, and recognizes consumers’ rights to access, correct and update their personal information stored in governmental or public databases. For the purposes of this law, a public database is composed by information that either: (i) is and/or may be transmitted to third parties; or (ii) is not exclusively used by the governmental agency or legal entity generating or managing the information.

As an internet-based retailer, we are also subject to several laws and regulations designed to protect consumer rights—most importantly the Consumer Protection and Defense Code, which regulates commercial practices, product and service liability, strict liability of the supplier of products or services, reversal of the burden of proof to the benefit of consumers, joint and several liability of all companies within the supply chain, abuse of rights in contractual clauses, and advertising and information on products and services offered to the public. The Consumer Protection and Defense Code establishes the legal framework for the protection of consumers, setting out certain basic rights, including the right to clear and accurate information about products and services offered in the consumer market, with correct specification of characteristics, structure, quality and price and the risks they pose. In addition, Executive Decree No. 7.962/13 applies with regards to retaining of service in an online environment. This legislation describes, among others, the rules on disclosure of information, consumer service, payment protection and other procedures for the rendering of online services.

 

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Argentina

In Argentina, we are subject to e-commerce laws such as Resolution No. 104/05 adopted by the Ministry of Economy and the Argentine Consumer Protection Agency, which establishes certain information requirements for internet providers, and Law No. 25,326, as amended, and its corresponding regulations, which mandate the registration of databases with the Data Protection Agency and regulate, among other things, the type of information that can be collected, and how such information can be used.

Moreover, Law No. 24,240, as amended (the “Consumer Protection Law”), sets forth certain rules and principles designed to protect consumers. The Consumer Protection Law was amended on March 12, 2008 by Law No. 26,361 in several respects, including: (i) an increase in the size of the overall group of persons deemed to be consumers, or recipients of the protections of the Consumer Protection Law; (ii) an increase in the maximum penalties applicable to providers that breach the law to AR$5 million, as discussed below, and the granting of power to the administrative authority to require the payment of direct damages by any provider; (iii) requirements that providers pay punitive damages to consumers (which may not exceed AR$5 million); and (iv) regulations regarding the possibility for consumer associations to initiate class actions on behalf of consumer groups. The Argentine Secretary of Commerce, which is part of the Argentine Ministry of Economy, is the national enforcement authority of the Consumer Protection Law, while the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and the provinces act as local enforcement authorities.

Regulations Related to Taxation

Brazil

In Brazil, between 2011 and 2015, our Brazilian subsidiary was exempt from collection of withholding income tax (“WHT”) on remittances to cover travel expenses of Brazilian individuals abroad, within the parameters established by applicable law. From January 1, 2016 to March 1, 2016, the applicable WHT for payments, credits, delivery, use by or remittance of these amounts to foreign persons was 25%. In February 2016, our Brazilian subsidiary filed a writ of mandamus (a judicial complaint) against the federal tax authority claiming that WHT should not be applicable due to a provision of “non-imposition” contained in the Income Tax Regulations. In March 2016, the court granted our Brazilian subsidiary a preliminary injunction on the writ of mandamus, which allowed our Brazilian subsidiary to make remittances free of WHT while the preliminary injunction was in place. In December 2016, the court published a decision on the merits of the case, against our Brazilian subsidiary (which terminated the effects of the preliminary injunction). Also in December 2016, our Brazilian subsidiary filed a Motion for Clarification, in an attempt to request the court to issue an opinion on the possible application of tax treaties to allow our Brazilian subsidiary to not collect WHT on the basis of their provisions.

Since March 2, 2016, the former WHT exemption was converted into a WHT imposition of 6% on remittances to cover travel expenses of Brazilian individuals abroad, within the parameters established by applicable law. This reduced WHT rate is effective until December 31, 2019 and we cannot assure you that it will be extended in the future. Our Brazilian subsidiary is currently depositing the relevant amounts before the court in order to guarantee that (i) if the company is not successful in the plea before the court, the applicable WHT will be converted into income of the federal revenue, without the imposition of any fines or interest and (ii) if the company is successful in its plea, the amount corresponding to the WHT will be returned to our Brazilian subsidiary with monetary adjustments.

Argentina

Since 2013 we have been the beneficiary of a tax exemption, applicable until January 30th, 2019, under Buenos Aires Municipal Law No. 2,972, which includes, among others, the turnover tax exemption. This law exempts from the turnover tax (as described below) any revenue directly connected to services performed through software applied to e-commerce that are performed within the designated IT district located in Parque Patricios in the city of Buenos Aires, only when: (i) said entity/person is registered under the Information and Communications Technologies Registry; and (ii) the entity/person keeps or increases the number of employees hired at the time of registration. Agreements executed by registered individuals in order to develop any of the activities promoted will also be exempt from stamp tax when the activities are carried out within or from the district. Because we perform e-commerce activity within and outside the IT district, these exemptions are partially applied. Revenue must be attributed to the IT district (and, thus, considered exempt) using a reasonable parameter.

 

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On August 18, 2017, the Argentine National Ministry of Production issued Disposition 82-E/2017, accepting the registration of our Argentine subsidiary in the National Registry of Software Producers, created by Decree 1315/13. As a result of this registration and pursuant to Argentine National Law No. 25,922, as amended, and its corresponding regulations (the “Software Promotion Law”), our Argentine subsidiary has been granted several tax benefits through December 31, 2019. These benefits include (i) a fixed national tax rate, (ii) a fiscal bond equivalent to 70% of the value of 91.05% of the company’s social security tax contribution payments under Laws 19,032, 24,013 and 24,241, which can be used as a tax credit to offset national taxes; provided that not more than 13.83% of this tax credit may be used by the company to cancel Argentine corporate income tax; (iii) exemption from value-added tax withholding regimes; and (iv) a 60% reduction in the total amount of corporate income tax as applied to income from the activities of creation, design, development, production, implementation or adjustment (upgrade) of developed software systems and their associated documents.

On December 27, 2017, the Argentine Senate approved a comprehensive income tax reform effective since January 1, 2018. Among the key features of the bill, (i) reduces the current 35% income tax rate to 30% for 2018 and 2019, and to 25% as from 2020; (ii) imposes a dividend withholding tax paid by an Argentine entity of 7% for 2018 and 2019, increasing to 13% as from 2020; (iii) repeals the “equalization tax” (i.e., 35% withholding applicable to dividends distributed in excess of the accumulated taxable income) for income accrued from January 1, 2018; iv) imposes income tax on indirect sales of assets located in Argentina for new stock acquisition, when Argentinean assets represent at least 30% of the value of the foreign entity; v) creates new rules applicable to controlled foreign companies for tax recognition of foreign profit investment; vi) introduces taxation of foreign digital services on VAT for B2C (business to consumer) transactions; vii) establishes an advance pricing agreement regime and viii) establishes a mutual agreement procedure for tax treaty interpretation disputes.

Uruguay and Others

We operate as a free trade zone user of the Zonamerica Free Trade Zone in Montevideo, Uruguay (the “Free Trade Zone”), under Law No. 15,921 and its corresponding regulations. No domestic Uruguayan tax whatsoever applies in the Free Trade Zone, except for social security contributions for any Uruguayan employees. No social security contributions are required for non-Uruguayan employees, so long as they do not exceed 25% of the personnel working in the facility located in the Free Trade Zone. In addition, the inflow of goods and services to the Free Trade Zone, as well as their outflow abroad, are tax exempt. The movement of goods and services into a Free Trade Zone from non-Free Trade Zone Uruguayan territory is treated as an export and therefore also exempt from VAT and the Specific Internal Tax (Impuesto Específico Interno or “IEI”). On the other hand, if goods are introduced into non-free Uruguayan territory from a Free Trade Zone, the corresponding import tax will apply. Exporting services from a Free Trade Zone to non-Free Trade Zone Uruguayan territory is generally prohibited. However, in 2016, our Uruguay subsidiary located in the Free Trade Zone was authorized by the Ministry of Economy in Uruguay to have limited operations with a related party located in Uruguay. By law, the Uruguayan state is liable for damages if the tax exemptions, benefits and rights of users of Free Zones granted pursuant to the law are not fulfilled during the term of their contracts.

We also receive certain tax benefits, consisting primarily of a reduced income tax rate, as a free trade zone user in Bogotá, Colombia under Decree 2147.

Regulations Related to Foreign Currency and Exchange Rates

There are also laws and regulations that address foreign currency and exchange rates in many of the countries in which we operate. In certain countries where we operate, we need governmental authorization to pay invoices to a foreign supplier or send money abroad due to foreign exchange restrictions. See “Item 3. Key Information — D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Latin America—We are subject to significant foreign currency exchange controls in certain countries in which we operate.”

Other Recent Argentine Regulations

Productive Financing Bill. On November 13, 2017, the Macri administration sent to the Congress a Productive Financing Bill, which would introduce significant modifications to the laws regarding capital markets,

 

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negotiable instruments and mutual investment funds, among other complementary and relevant legislation, in an effort to modernize and promote the development of the Argentine capital markets. The bill seeks to increase the base of investors and companies participating in the capital markets, promoting productive financing, above all for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, proposing a system for driving and facilitating financing for such enterprises. As of the date of this Annual Report, the bill has been approved by both chambers of the Legislative Branch; however, the Argentine Senate made amendments to the original bill. Therefore, the amended bill must be reviewed by the House of Deputies before being approved.

Corporate Criminal Liability Act. On November 8, 2017, the Argentine Congress passed the Corporate Criminal Liability Act, which seeks to implement certain international standards to penalize legal persons involved in corruption cases. The Corporate Criminal Liability Act entered into effect on March 1, 2018.

Welfare Reform. On November 30, 2017, the Argentine Senate approved the bill proposed by the Macri administration that seeks comprehensive reform of the Argentine welfare system, including modifications to the adjustment formula for retirement earnings and social plans. The Executive Branch subsequently called extraordinary meetings for the House of Deputies to address welfare reform, among other bills. The Welfare Reform entered into effect in December 2017.

Decree No. 27/2018 (Decreto de Necesidad y Urgencia) on Debureaucratization and Simplification: The Executive Branch issued necessity and urgency Decree No. 27/2018 on Debureaucratization and Simplification (published in the Official Gazette on January 11, 2018). With this measure, the Argentine government seeks to reduce the amount of processes companies must complete to be able to operate in the country, seeking to be more efficient and accelerate processing. The Decree includes a set of more than 40 regulations to reduce the processes that companies now have to complete to operate in the country, at the same time that it will allow new practices in the finance and transportation sectors, aimed at reducing costs and becoming more competitive. Key areas include:

1.    Corporations: (i) the National Stock Corporations Register will be under the direction of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights; (ii) corporations are authorized to keep their shareholding and accounting records using digital media; (iii) corporate action by an apparent shareholder or “nominee” or that of any dormant shareholder is prohibited, generating subsidiary, joint and unlimited liability in the event of violation; and (iv) National Registers will be made available to the public electronically shall be able to be consulted by the public through electronic media.

2.    Consumer Rights: The Law on Consumer Defense was modified, stipulating that information to be given to the consumer will be undertaken using the media that the provider determines, unless the consumer chooses a paper copy. Furthermore, it is clarified that if the media is not stipulated, it will be by electronic means.

3.    Credit Cards: In line with current trends, it is clarified that the signature requirement on a credit card contract made electronically will be satisfactory if the chosen method undoubtedly guarantees the will of the parties and the integrity of the instrument is used. This change makes it possible to obtain a credit card using an digital signature, without the need for a handwritten or digital signature.

4.    Trademarks and Patents: (i) Procedures for opposition are simplified. Thus, oppositions must be resolved by the parties (applicant and opponent) within three months after notification, and, if they are not, the authority will issue a resolution in a procedure yet to be determined; (ii) Notification for all matters must be served electronically to the e-mail address provided by the applicant. In the case of oppositions to third-party trademark applications, they may only be filed online once the new procedure has been properly implemented; (iii) At the request of the party or ex officio, the authority may declare a trademark expired, in whole or in part, for products or services that have not been used in Argentina for five years. A registered and unused trademark in a certain class or for certain products or services does not expire if it was used to market a product or provide a service that is the same or similar to the product or service in question, even when they are in other classes, or if it forms part of the designation of an activity related to the product or service in question; (iv) After the fifth anniversary of the date when the trademark was granted but before the sixth anniversary since that date, the owner must submit an affidavit as to the use given to said trademark until that time. Regarding patents, the periods are shorter and the documents that have to be filed are simplified.

5.    Digital Signature: The exclusions contained in Law 25,506 are eliminated, thereby expanding situations where a digital signature is deemed acceptable.

 

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6.    Employment Promotions: The periods for remaining in the Public Register of Employers with Labor Sanctions (REPSAL), a register where sanctions for informal labor practices and other labor conflicts are published, are modified. This will allow sanctioned companies to remedy their situation more quickly.

7.    Public Works Tenders: The means of communication for public tenders are changed. Thus, in addition to the Official Gazette, they must also be posted on the official website of the agency undertaking the public tender.

8.    Financial Reporting Unit (“UIF”): Changes have been made to simplify and accelerate legal proceedings. Subjects obligated to report to the UIF (for example, financial entities, insurers, gambling establishments, etc.) may share files they keep in connection to their clients that contain information relating to their identification, the source and legal status of funds, with related third parties or not, national or foreign; always being subject to complying with requirements of the Law on the Protection of Personal Data.

10.    Negotiable Instruments: Legal frameworks relating to checks, letters of exchange and promissory notes are updated to admit, in addition to the digital signature, other electronic media that undoubtedly guarantee the authorship and integrity of documents signed by their holders and/or releasers.

11.    Exchange Market: The Law on Brokerage Houses and Exchange Agents has been modified to provide greater flexibility to the system and to strengthen competition. In this way, the entrance of new operators on the exchange market is permitted, reducing the costs that the current system generates for the Argentine Central Bank.

12.    Labor Law: The Labor Contract Law is modified so that, prior to the execution of any preventive or executive garnishment of workers’ wages, it must be procured through the employer so that the latter can make the respective withholdings as corresponding under applicable law.

Although Decree No. 27/2018 is in force, it has been contested in courts that it breaches the Argentine Constitution. In March 2018, three bills were approved in the House of Deputies to approve each of the chapters of Decree No. 27/2018. As of the date of this Annual Report, the three bills are waiting to be reviewed in the Argentine Senate.

Legal Proceedings

From time to time, we are involved in disputes and legal and administrative proceedings that arise in the ordinary course of our business. We are currently engaged in several legal proceedings, including consumer protection, tax, labor and other proceedings. Any claims against us, regardless of whether meritorious, can be time-consuming, result in costly litigation, require significant management time and result in the diversion of significant operational resources.

We have established provisions for such disputes and proceedings in an aggregate amount of $11.8 million as of December 31, 2017. We record a provision in our balance sheet for losses arising from litigation based on an evaluation of the likelihood of loss by our external and internal legal counsel, the progress of related proceedings, the history of losses in similar cases and the individual analysis of each contingency. We record provisions for contingencies based on probable loss or when so required under accounting rules. We do not reserve provisions for possible and remote losses.

We are currently not a party to any legal, arbitration or administrative proceedings that, in the opinion of our management, is likely to have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations, other than as set forth below.

Brazil

On June 25, 2014, the National Association of Citizenship and Consumer Defense (“ANADEC”) filed a public civil action against our Brazilian subsidiary to (i) dispute the validity of cancellation clauses which establish a penalty in a percentage higher than 20% of the price paid by the consumer; and (ii) request the return of the amounts paid by all consumers above this percentage. We successfully defended this claim in the trial court and the ANADEC has appealed the decision, which is ongoing. We believe this claim is without merit.

 

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On July 27, 2016, a Brazilian hotel sector association—Forum de Operadores Hoteleiros do Brasil (“FOHB”)—filed a complaint with the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defence (“CADE”) against us, Booking.com and Expedia, with respect to parity provisions in supply contracts. Although we submitted our response to FOHB’s complaint, on October 2016 the CADE launched an administrative inquiry, as they concluded that the facts alleged by FOHB should be examined more deeply. After several months of discussions, that CADE agreed to close the investigations upon the execution of a settlement agreement with us, Booking.com and Expedia. Through the arrangement, the CADE limited the use of parity clauses in the commercial relations between OTAs and their accomodation suppliers. Therefore, parity clauses will not be valid to forbid better offers made by these hotels in their offline sales channels. In addition, the three companies party to the settlement will not be able to demand parity in relation to the prices charged by other online travel agencies. On the other hand, CADE accepted the possibility to keep requiring the parity clause regarding the offer of accommodation through the website of the hotels. The settlement agreement was approved by the CADE Tribunal on March 27, 2018. Now that the agreement is in force, we are required to inform our hotel suppliers about the settlement before June 1, 2018 and to make the necessary adjustments to our current contracts by July 31, 2018. The settlement agreement will be valid for three years and due to the typicity of the conduct, there is no legal obligation to pay a pecuniary contribution. It is important to note that the settlement is limited to the hotels located in Brazil.

Between May and July 2016, Booking.com filed several complaints against us with various public offices: Public Prosecution Office of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Public Prosecution Office of the State of São Paulo, Consumer Defense Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Consumer Defense Office of the State of São Paulo, Consumer Defense Office of the Department of Justice, Consumer Defense Committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro and the Public Prosecution Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro. Booking.com alleges that (i) we offered higher prices to Brazilian consumers than those offered to foreign consumers for the same accommodation during the same period of time (“geopricing”) and (ii) we made accommodations unavailable for Brazilian consumers whereas foreign consumers were allowed to book the same accommodations (“geoblocking”). Based on these allegations, Booking.com is requesting that the public prosecution offices order us to pay penalties and/or to initiate public civil actions against us in order to prevent the alleged practices. We have presented our administrative defenses to all claims and currently the public prosecution offices are collecting evidence. Such complaints resulted in investigation proceedings with the respective authorities. As a result of these proceedings, in January 2018, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro filed a public civil action against us in the Rio de Janeiro court. The complaint refers to the alleged geopricing and geoblocking practices detrimental to Brazilian consumers and seeks relief to cease the practice and for payment of damages. We filed our defense on March 20, 2018 and we provided evidence to refute the complaint. Although we believe our Brazilian subsidiary has meritorious defenses to this lawsuit, we cannot assure you what the ultimate outcome of this matter will be. The final resolution of this claim, which could take several years, is not likely to have a material effect on our financial position or results of operations.

On October 25, 2016, the National Federation of Hotels, Restaurants, Bars and Similar filed a public civil action against our Brazilian subsidiary with the main purpose of (1) preventing us from increasing the commission percentage charged from the hotels connected to the Federation; (2) requiring us to maintain the current 15% commission percentage with the possibility of adjustment according to an inflation index; (3) requiring us to pay an indemnification to be fixed by the judge and proportional to the alleged violation of rights of the consumers and of the business community; (4) requiring us to pay a penalty of at least 10% of our Brazilian subsidiary’s revenue, after taxes for the last fiscal year, for alleged violation of the economic order; (5) requiring that our directors and/or officers are jointly responsible to pay a fine equivalent to 5% of the penalty imposed on us; (6) preventing us from entering into agreements with public financial institutions or participating in public bids for at least 5 years; (7) obtaining a “recommendation” for the federal tax authority to not allow us to pay any federal taxes by installments or to cancel any tax incentive or public subsidy granted to us; (8) to publish the decision rendered in a newspaper to be determined by the judge for two consecutive days during a 1 to 3 week period; and (9) the offender’s registration under the consumer defense national registry (Cadastro Nacional de Defensa do Consumidor). This proceeding has been dismissed and was not appealed.

Argentina

On June 28, 2017, the Sindicato Empleados de Comercio de Capital Federal (Union for Employees of the Commercial Sector in the City of Buenos Aires, or “SECCF”) filed a lawsuit against our Argentine subsidiary, Despegar.com.ar, in which SECCF is demanding the application of its collective labor agreement to all of the employees of the subsidiary. According to SECCF’s claim, Despegar.com.ar should have withheld and transferred to SECCF an amount equal to 2% of the gross monthly salaries of all of its employees for the period from October 2011 through October 2016. As a result, SECCF is demanding payment of approximately AR$18 million. Certain of Despegar.com.ar’s employees are members of this union, however, we believe that other

 

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employees, such as senior management and IT personnel, are not required to be part of this union. Despegar.com.ar filed a response in a timely manner on July 13, 2017, rejecting all the claims. Although we believe Despegar.com.ar has meritorious defenses to this lawsuit, we cannot assure you what the ultimate outcome of this matter will be. The final resolution of these claims, which could take several years, is not likely to have a material effect on our financial position or results of operations.

Tax Proceedings

Brazil

In March 2013, São Paulo tax authorities have asserted Brazilian municipal taxes (“Imposto Sobre Serviço”) and fines against our Brazilian subsidiary relating to the period from 2008 to 2011 in an approximate amount of $21.5 million, including ordinary taxable services on commissions earned. On April 2, 2013, the Company’s Brazilian subsidiary filed an administrative defense against the authorities’ claim. In a decision published on August 30, 2014, the São Paulo tax authorities ruled against the Brazilian subsidiary upholding the claimed taxes and the fines previously imposed. An appeal to the São Paulo City Administrative Court was filed on September 30, 2014. On December 4, 2015, the Administrative Court ruled against the Brazilian subsidiary upholding the claimed taxes and the fines previously imposed. The Company accrued liabilities of $9.9 million for the contingency.

On July 5, 2017, the Municipality of São Paulo, as was expected, published the terms of a special installment program called “Programa de Parcelamento Incentivado, PPI 2017”. On September 12, 2017 the Company filed to join the program and applied for a payment in a single installment for a total amount of $8.9 million, which was made that month.

Argentina

In April 2013 the Argentine Tax authority (“AFIP”) brought criminal charges against Despegar.com.ar SA’s directors on the grounds of an alleged infringement of Law No. 24,769 (as amended, the “Argentine Criminal Tax Law”) following several customers claims related to lack of invoicing and some assumptions generated on high amounts of intercompany balances on financials. AFIP alleged that Despegar.com.ar SA failed to pay certain amounts related to income tax for fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011. The criminal court requested AFIP to prepare and produce tax adjustments for the fiscal years included in the accusation. During the assessment process, AFIP determined a taxable base due to intercompany liabilities without supporting documentation and revenue connected to some functions not recognized according to transfer pricing rules. Despegar.com.ar SA amended the corresponding tax returns and paid the corresponding amounts due. In December 2014, the criminal court concluded that the amounts owed by Despegar.com.ar SA for income tax for the fiscal years under review did not reach the minimum threshold required by the Argentine Criminal Tax Law to allow a criminal prosecution. In March 2015, Despegar.com.ar SA was acquitted and the charges dismissed by the criminal court. Despegar.com.ar SA does not have an outstanding contingency relating to this case.

 

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C. Organizational Structure

Despegar.com, Corp. is a holding company organized in the British Virgin Islands, which owns, directly or indirectly, all of our operating subsidiaries. The diagram below depicts the organizational structure of our key subsidiaries:

 

LOGO

 

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D. Property, Plants and Equipment

The following table shows the location of our significant leased offices and customer service centers, and the term of the leases under which they operate.

 

City, Country

  

Facility

  

Address

   Approximate
Square Meters
   Agreement
Expiration Date

Buenos Aires Argentina

  

Argentina operation and regional functions

   Avenida Corrientes 746    1,480    03/31/2020

Buenos Aires, Argentina

  

Argentina operation and regional functions

   Juana Manso 999, 2 Floor    4,422    8/31/2021

Buenos Aires, Argentina

  

Argentina operation and regional functions

   Juana Manso 1069, 5 Floor    1,203    05/21/2022

La Plata, Buenos Aires Argentina

  

Argentina operation

   Calle 532, Nbr. 1211    1,500    9/14/2020

La Plata, Buenos Aires Argentina

  

Argentina operation

   Camino Centenario esq. 511, La Plata    2,600    08/31/2022

São Paulo, Guarulhos, Brazil

  

Brazil operation

   Avenida Timóteo Penteado Nbr. 1578    2,792    8/10/2019

Bogotá, Colombia

  

Colombia operation and customer service center

   Interior 101, Manzana 15, Carretera 106 Nbr. 15A-25, Free Trade Zone    1,754    2/23/2020

Montevideo, Uruguay

  

International Hotels, Packages and Other Travel Products operations and Shared service center

   Ruta 8 Km. 17,500, local 318, edificio 300, Zonamerica    2,092    9/14/2020

We also own two properties: (1) an approximately 2,077 square meter facility at Jujuy 2013 in the Parque Patricios tech district of Buenos Aires, Argentina, which houses part of our Argentina operations including IT support, and (2) an approximately 223 square meter facility on Avenida Francisco de Miranda in Caracas, Venezuela, which houses our Venezuela operations.

 

ITEM 4A. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

 

ITEM 5. OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS

 

A. Operating Results

Overview

We are the leading online travel company in Latin America, known by our two brands, Despegar, our global brand, and Decolar, our Brazilian brand. We have a comprehensive product offering, including airline tickets, packages, hotels and other travel-related products, which enables consumers to find, compare, plan and purchase travel products easily through our marketplace. We provide our network of travel suppliers a technology platform for managing the distribution of their products and access to our users. We are focused on the underpenetrated Latin America travel industry, where approximately $36 billion and $32 billion in gross bookings were transacted in 2017 and 2016, respectively. Gross bookings are expected to grow to approximately $49 billion (in constant terms) by 2021, representing an estimated CAGR of 8.4% for the period 2017 – 2021, according to Euromonitor. In 2017, 36% of all travel bookings were done online, a percentage that is expected to increase to approximately 41% in 2021.

Latin American travel bookings (both online and offline) represented an estimated $99 billion market in 2017 and it is expected to grow to approximately $116 billion by 2021, according to Euromonitor. This represents an estimated CAGR of 4.1% for the period 2017 – 2021. In 2017, airline bookings for Latin America were $41 billion while lodging bookings recorded $48 billion. Car rental and attractions bookings in Latin America combined reached $10 billion in 2017.

Factors driving the growth in online travel bookings include the increase of internet penetration, further adoption of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices and a growing middle class with greater access to banking services and credit products, together enabling a larger segment of the growing population to transact online or on mobile devices. We believe that our business will continue benefitting from these market trends, although we cannot assure you that our business will grow at the same rates as historic or forecasted market growth.

 

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We organize our business into two segments: (1) Air, which consists of the sale of airline tickets, and (2) Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products, which consists of travel packages (which can include airline tickets and hotel rooms), as well as stand-alone sales of hotel rooms (including vacation rentals), car rentals, bus tickets, cruise tickets, travel insurance and destination services. In 2017, we derived 46.0% and 54.0% of our total revenue from our Air and our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segments, respectively. In 2016, we derived 50.0% and 50.0% of our total revenue from our Air and our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segments, respectively. In 2015, we derived 52.1% and 47.9% of our total revenue from our Air and our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segments, respectively.

We report our revenue on a net basis, deducting cancellations and amounts that we collect as sales taxes. We derive most of our revenue from commissions and other incentive payments paid by our suppliers and service fees paid by our customers. In our Air segment, we recognize revenue for certain up-front incentive commissions and service fees at the time of sale. In our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment, we generally recognize revenue at the time of travel, except for non-reimbursable transactions, for which we recognize revenue at the time of booking.

For 2017, 2016 and 2015:

 

    revenue was $523.9 million, $411.2 million and $421.7 million, respectively;

 

    operating income / (loss) was $71.2 million, $35.1 million and $(54.4) million, respectively; and

 

    net income / (loss) was $ 42.4 million, $17.8 million and $(85.3) million, respectively.

In May 2017, the stockholders of our predecessor, Decolar.com, Inc., a Delaware corporation, exchanged their shares for ordinary shares of Despegar.com, Corp., a business company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands to create a new BVI holding company. Following the exchange, our shareholders own shares of Despegar.com, Corp. and Decolar.com, Inc. is a subsidiary of Despegar.com, Corp. The audited consolidated financial statements as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, and for the three years ended December 31, 2017 to the extent related to the events and periods prior to May 3, 2017, are the consolidated financial statements of Decolar.com, Inc., which is our predecessor for accounting purposes.

Key Trends and Factors Affecting Our Business

We believe that our results of operations and financial performance will be driven primarily by the following trends and factors:

 

    Growth in and Retention of our Customer Base: A key driver of our revenue will be the number of customer transactions and the growth in our customer base. We have grown our customer base from 2.7 million unique customers booking travel with us in 2012 to 4.6 million in 2017. One important driver of growth in our customer base is consumer awareness of our brand which we foster via our online and offline marketing throughout our target markets in Latin America. We also benefit from network effects, in that a larger customer base helps us to attract additional suppliers and, in turn, a larger network of suppliers helps us to attract new customers as well as drive retention and repeat purchases. We focus on maintaining strong customer satisfaction to build long-term customer relationships. In 2017 and 2016, approximately 64% and 60%, respectively, of our customers had completed previous purchases on our platform.

 

    Cross-Selling: Our financial results are also driven by our ability to cross-sell and increase the number of products that we are able to sell in connection with each trip, which allows us to increase our revenue from each transaction without incurring the costs of acquiring additional customers.

 

    Changes in Product Mix and New Product Offerings: In addition to the total volume of transactions, our operating results also vary depending on product mix. In particular, packages and hotels tend to have higher margins than air travel. In addition, we continually seek to expand our product offerings, whether by adding new product categories, such as our introduction of our bus, local concierge and vacation rentals products, which may have higher or lower margins than our overall business, or by the ongoing expansion of our supplier base.

 

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    Shift to Mobile Transactions: As smart phone penetration in Latin America continues to increase, Latin American consumers have begun to make greater use of mobile devices to transact online. Mobile is an increasingly important part of our business, as consumers are quickly able to access and browse our real-time travel offerings, compare prices and make purchases through their mobile devices. During 2017 and 2016, mobile accounted for approximately 54% and 50%, respectively, of all of our user visits, and approximately 28% and 23%, respectively, of our transactions were completed on our mobile platform, complementing our desktop website traffic. In addition, the mix of our transactions via mobile increased by approximately five percentage points in 2016 compared to 2017. Our strategic focus on mobile enables us to remain connected to customers and provides the opportunity for customers to access our platform after they have arrived at their destination to purchase additional products, such as rental cars, destination services and travel insurance, or make last-minute hotel or air travel bookings.

 

    Selling and Marketing Expenditures: Our number of transactions and gross bookings, and consequently our revenue and results of operations, are impacted by the level of our selling and marketing expenditures. We monitor our selling and marketing expenditures and their impact on our revenue in many cases virtually in real-time, as a significant amount of our selling and marketing expenditures relate to online advertising for which we can obtain real-time click-through data. As a result, we are able to adjust our selling and marketing expenditures to respond rapidly to changing market conditions. During 2017, our selling and marketing expenditures increased 37% compared to 2016 due to the following: (1) we responded to adverse macroeconomic conditions during 2016, particularly in Brazil and Argentina, (2) currency depreciation, particularly in Argentina in December 2015, reduced our expenditures in dollar terms in 2016, with lower level of currency depreciation in 2017, (3) we reduced expenditures during the imposition of our more effective anti-fraud protocol at the beginning of 2016, and (4) we adjusted our customer acquisition strategy to balance market share and customer profitability in both years. During 2017, our number of transactions increased 26% and gross bookings increased 37%, in both cases compared to 2016.

Key Business Metrics

We regularly review the following key metrics to evaluate our business, measure our performance, identify trends in our business, prepare financial projections and make strategic decisions.

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016      % Change      2016      2015     % Change  
     (in thousands)      (in thousands)        

Operational

       

Number of transactions

                

By country

                

Brazil

     3,713        2,924        26        2,924        3,620       (19

Argentina

     2,264        1,798        26        1,798        1,787       1  

Other

     3,079        2,490        25        2,490        2,298       8  
  

 

 

    

 

 

       

 

 

    

 

 

   

Total

     9,056        7,212        26        7,212        7,705       (6

By segment

                

Air

     5,285        4,250        24        4,250        4,385       (3

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products

     3,771        2,963        27        2,963        3,320       (11
  

 

 

    

 

 

       

 

 

    

 

 

   

Total

     9,056        7,212        26        7,212        7,705       (6

Gross bookings

   $ 4,454,548      $ 3,260,234        37      $ 3,260,234      $ 3,596,260       (9

Financial

                

Adjusted EBITDA (unaudited)

   $ 89,354      $ 48,585        84      $ 48,585      $ (39,067     NM  

 

Note: “NM” denotes not meaningful.

Number of Transactions

The number of transactions for a period is an operating measure that represents the total number of customer orders completed on our platform in such period. We monitor the total number of transactions, as well as the number of transactions in each of our segments and the number of transactions with customers in each of Brazil, Argentina and the other countries in which we operate. The number of transactions is an important metric because it is an indicator of the level of engagement with our customers and the scale of our business from period to period but, unlike gross bookings and our financial metrics, the number of transactions is independent of the average selling price of each transaction, which can be significantly influenced by fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

 

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Gross Bookings

Gross bookings is an operating measure that represents the aggregate purchase price of all travel products booked by our customers through our platform during a given period. We generate substantially all of our revenue from commissions and other incentive payments paid by our suppliers and service fees paid by our customers for transactions through our platform, and, as a result, we monitor gross bookings as an important indicator of our ability to generate revenue.

Adjusted EBITDA

We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income / (loss) exclusive of financial income / (expense), income tax, depreciation, amortization and share-based compensation.

We believe that Adjusted EBITDA, a non-GAAP financial measure, provides useful supplemental information to investors about us and our results. Adjusted EBITDA is among the measures used by our management team to evaluate our financial and operating performance and make day-to-day financial and operating decisions. In addition, Adjusted EBITDA is frequently used by securities analysts, investors and other parties to evaluate companies in the online travel industry. We also believe that Adjusted EBITDA is helpful to investors because it provides additional information about trends in our core operating performance prior to considering the impact of capital structure, depreciation, amortization, and taxation on our results.

Adjusted EBITDA should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for other measures of financial performance reported in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Adjusted EBITDA has limitations as an analytical tool, including:

 

    Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect changes in, including cash requirements for, our working capital needs or contractual commitments;

 

    Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect our financial expenses, or the cash requirements to service interest or principal payments on our indebtedness, or interest income or other financial income;

 

    Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect our income tax expense or the cash requirements to pay our income taxes;

 

    although depreciation and amortization are non-cash charges, the assets being depreciated or amortized often will need to be replaced in the future, and Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect any cash requirements for these replacements;

 

    although share-based compensation is a non-cash charge, Adjusted EBITDA does not consider the potentially dilutive impact of share-based compensation; and

 

    other companies may calculate Adjusted EBITDA differently, limiting its usefulness as a comparative measure.

We compensate for the inherent limitations associated with using Adjusted EBITDA through disclosure of these limitations, presentation of our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP and reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP measure, net income / (loss).

The table below provides a reconciliation of our net income / (loss) to Adjusted EBITDA:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016      2015  
     (in thousands)  

Net income / (loss)

   $ 42,366      $ 17,797      $ (85,276

Add (deduct):

        

Financial expense/ (income), net

     17,879        6,752        12,905  

Income tax expense

     11,994        10,538        18,004  

Depreciation expense

     5,075        5,089        5,152  

Amortization of intangible assets

     8,751        7,835        9,287  

Share-based compensation expense

     4,289        574        861  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Adjusted EBITDA

   $ 89,354      $ 48,585      $ (39,067
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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Components of Results of Operations

Revenue

We report our revenue on a net basis, deducting cancellations and amounts that we collect as sales taxes. We derive substantially all of our revenue from commissions and other incentive payments paid by our suppliers and service fees paid by our customers for transactions through our platform. To a lesser extent, we also derive revenue from the sale of third-party advertisements on our websites and from certain suppliers when their brands appears in our advertisements in mass media, which in 2017, 2016 and 2015 amounted to 2.7%, 1.8% and 1.8%, respectively, of total revenue.

The structure of our fees and commissions varies significantly by product. Supplier incentives take several forms, including up-front commissions, which we recognize at the time of booking or upon check-in; back-end commissions and other bonuses based on satisfying volume targets for certain suppliers; as well as certain payments from our GDS suppliers and other suppliers. We also receive certain service fees from our customers, which vary based on a number of factors, including the type of product, destination and point of sale.

In our Air segment, we recognize revenue for certain up-front incentives commissions and service fees at the time of sale. In our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment, in most cases we recognize revenue at the time of travel, or, in the case of non-reimbursable transactions, at the time of booking. In our merchant, or pre-pay, model transactions, our supplier agreements allow us to receive full payment at the time of booking from the customer while the supplier is paid after check-out. In our agency, or pay-at-destination, model, we may either record the booking without taking payment from the customer or collect an amount equal to the commission from the customer while the customer pays the supplier only at check-out.

We seek to develop and maintain long-term relationships with travel suppliers, GDSs and other intermediaries. Our travel supplier management personnel work directly with travel suppliers to optimize access to their travel products for visitors to our platform, including through promotional activity, and maximize our revenue. In most cases, we enter into non-exclusive contracts with our travel suppliers, although in the case of some travel suppliers we may have informal arrangements without written contracts. Typically, supplier payment terms are negotiated on a regular basis. We have an exclusive contract with Expedia and its affiliates to offer through our platform hotel and other lodging products for all countries outside of Latin America. The contract establishes agreed payment terms. In 2017, 2016 and 2015, 9.1%, 9.3% and 9.3% of our gross bookings, respectively, were attributable to supply provided by affiliates of Expedia. For more information about our relationships with Expedia, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions —B. Related Party — Relationship with Expedia.” Given the fragmentation in travel suppliers in our markets, the frequency of negotiations of payment terms and competitive conditions, we have experienced what we consider to be limited volatility related to our arrangements with suppliers; however, we cannot assure you that we will not experience more volatility in the future.

Cost of Revenue

Cost of revenue consists of (1) credit card processing fees, (2) fees that we pay to banks relating to the customer financing installment plans that we offer, (3) the costs of operating our fulfillment center, customer service and risk management, (4) costs borne by us as a result of credit card chargebacks, including those related to fraud, (5) claims against us under consumer protection laws, (6) certain transaction-based taxes, other than income taxes (which are included under income tax expense) and sales taxes (which are deducted from our revenue) and (7) a portion of overhead expenses distributed based on the percentage of our employees attributable to cost of revenue.

 

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Selling and Marketing

Selling and marketing expense is comprised of direct costs, including online marketing such as search engine and social media marketing, and offline marketing, such as television and print advertising. It also includes expenses of our selling and marketing personnel and related overhead usually distributed based on the percentage of our employees attributable to selling and marketing (for example, rent, facilities, depreciation etc.) Lastly, selling and marketing expense also includes commissions paid to certain third-party affiliates for sales that they generate through our systems.

General and Administrative

General and administrative expense consists primarily of personnel expenses for management, including both senior management and local managers, and employees involved in general corporate functions, including finance, accounting, tax, legal, human resources and commercial analysts, our share-based compensation expenses for grants to members of our management team and professional and consulting fees. General and administrative expense also includes a portion of the overhead distributed based on the percentage of our employees attributable to general and administrative (for example, rent, facilities, depreciation etc.). General and administrative expense also includes bad debt expense that we recognize relating to the risk that we are unable to collect receivables from certain suppliers.

Technology and Product Development

Technology and product development expense includes the costs of developing our platform, as well as information technology costs to support our infrastructure, back-office operations and overall monitoring and security of our networks. This expense is principally comprised of personnel and depreciation and amortization of technology assets, including hardware, and purchased and internally-developed software. Technology and product development expense also includes a portion of the overhead expense for our facilities, based on the percentage of our employees attributable to technology and product development. During 2017, 2016 and 2015, we capitalized $12.9 million, $12.2 million and $13.6 million, respectively, for internal-use software and website development costs.

We classify our supplier relationships as a component of the products that we offer to our customers and, accordingly, our costs of acquiring and maintaining supplier relationships, including the costs of our personnel engaged in supplier relationships, are included as a component of technology and product development expense.

Financial Income / (Expense)

The functional currency of Despegar.com, Corp. and the functional currency of certain of our subsidiaries, including our U.S., Ecuador and Venezuela subsidiaries, as well as one of our Uruguay subsidiaries, is the U.S. dollar. Each of our other subsidiaries uses its local currency as its functional currency. Gains and losses resulting from transactions by each entity in non-functional currency are included in financial income / (expense). Financial income / (expense) also includes gains and losses on certain derivative financial instruments that we use to manage our exposure to foreign exchange volatility.

In addition, our assets and liabilities are translated from local currencies into dollars at the end of each period. However, any gains and losses resulting from such translations are reflected in our consolidated statement of comprehensive income / (loss) and are not reflected in our consolidated statements of operations. See also “Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk—Foreign Exchange Risk.”

Many of our customers finance their purchases from us using installment plans offered by third-party financial institutions. When customers make purchases using installment plans, the third-party financial institution bears the risk that the customer will make the required installment payments. In all markets except Brazil, we typically receive payment in full in less than one month after booking. However, our agreements with financing providers in Brazil allow for a significant delay between the initial transaction and the payment of the purchase price to us. In Brazil, we generally receive payment from the installment financing provider only after each scheduled payment due date from the customer. In the interim, the payment obligation is recognized as a receivable on our balance sheet. In some cases, we elect to factor or discount these Brazilian installment receivables, allowing us to receive the payment of the purchase price more quickly. The difference between the book value of the receivable and the amount that we receive for factoring such receivable is recognized as financial expense.

 

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We also maintain revolving credit facilities in certain jurisdictions, and the associated interest expense is also included in financial income / (expense). As of December 31, 2017, we had outstanding borrowings of $8.2 million under these facilities.

Income Tax Expense

As a Delaware corporation, our predecessor and subsidiary Decolar.com, Inc. is subject to taxation in the United States. In May 2017, the stockholders of Decolar.com, Inc. exchanged their shares for newly issued shares of Despegar.com, Corp. Although Despegar.com, Corp. is organized in the BVI, as a result of the exchange, under the “anti-inversion” rules of Section 7874 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, Despegar.com, Corp. is treated for U.S. federal tax purposes as a U.S. corporation and, accordingly, Despegar.com, Corp. is subject to U.S. federal income tax on its worldwide income, at a maximum rate which was reduced from 35% to 21% in January 2018.

We are subject to foreign taxes in the multiple jurisdictions in which we operate. In Brazil and Argentina, the income tax statutory rates are 34% and 35%, respectively.

In certain jurisdictions, we have outstanding net operating losses from prior periods. Deferred taxes related to these loss carryforwards are fully reserved.

Results of Operations

Year Ended December 31, 2017 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2016

 

     Year Ended December 31,        
     2017     2016        
     (in thousands)        
           % of
Revenue
          % of
Revenue
    % Change  

Revenue

          

Air

   $ 241,015       46.0     $ 205,721       50.0       17  

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products

     282,925       54.0       205,441       50.0       38  
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Total revenue

     523,940       100.0       411,162       100.0       27  

Cost of revenue

     142,479       27.2       126,675       30.8       13  
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Gross profit

     381,461       72.8       284,487       69.2       34  

Operating expenses

          

Selling and marketing

     166,288       31.7       121,466       29.5       37  

General and administrative

     72,626       13.9       64,683       15.7       12  

Technology and product development

     71,308       13.6       63,251       15.4       13  
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Total operating expenses

     310,222       59.2       249,400       60.7       24  

Operating income

     71,239       13.6       35,087       8.5       103  

Financial income

     2,389       0,5       8,327       2.0       71  
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Financial expense

     (19,268     (3,7     (15,079     (3.7     28  

Net income before income taxes

     54,360       10.4       28,335       6.9       92  

Income tax expense

     11,994       2.3       10,538       2.6       14  
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Net income

   $ 42,366       8.1     $ 17,797       4.3       138  
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Revenue

Revenue increased by 27%, from $411.2 million in 2016 to $523.9 million in 2017. The increase in revenue was primarily a result of 26% increase in the number of transactions from 7.2 million in 2016 to 9.1 million in 2017, and a 37% increase in gross bookings from $3,260 million in 2016 to $4,455 million in 2017. The increase in number of transactions and gross bookings was primarily due to stabilizing macroeconomic conditions in Brazil and Argentina, an increase in our selling and marketing activities, changes in product mix with a shift to packages, hotels and other travel products as well as an increase in the proportion of international travel, which typically results in higher average selling prices and higher revenue per transaction, and the real appreciation of the local currency in Brazil.

The following is a discussion of our revenue broken down by our two business segments: Air; and Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products.

 

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Air Segment. The revenue in our Air segment increased by 17%, to $241.0 million in 2017 from $205.7 million in 2016, primarily due to an increase of 24% in the number of transactions in this segment, partially offset by a decrease of 6% in the average revenue per transaction for the segment, resulting primarily from a decrease in our rate of commissions, incentives and fees due to a commercial strategy to increase sales opportunities.

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products Segment. The revenue in our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment increased by 38%, to $282.9 million in 2017 from $205.4 million in 2016, primarily due to an increase of 27% in the number of transactions in this segment, as well as an increase of 8% in the revenue per transaction, resulting primarily from a greater product mix of international travel along with a longer length of average stay.

The following presents a breakdown of our revenue by: commissions, incentives and fees; advertising; commissions for the release of aged payables; and deferred revenue.

 

     Year Ended December 30,  
     2017      2016  
     (in thousands)  

Commissions, incentives and fees(1)

   $ 514,126      $ 396,892  

Advertising(1)

     14,277        7,375  

Commissions for release of aged payables

     6,147        9,378  

Deferred revenue

     (10,610      (2,483
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total revenue

   $ 523,940      $ 411,162  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) Net of sales tax.

The following table presents a breakdown of our revenue for commissions, incentives and fees by: pre-pay model; pay-at-destination model; and other.

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016  
     (in thousands)  

Pre-pay model

   $ 412,679      $ 321,990  

Pay-at-destination model

     23,710        22,907  

Other(1)

     77,737        51,995  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total revenue

   $ 514,126      $ 396,892  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) Primarily includes incentives from our travel suppliers, primarily airlines and GDSs.

Our revenue from our pre-pay model increased by 28% in 2017 mainly due to our increased promotional activity to take advantage of higher demand for sales in installments. Our revenue from our pay-at-destination model increased by 4% in 2017, mainly due to the increase in revenues from hotels and car rentals. Other revenue increased by 50% in 2017, mainly due to an increase in revenue from advertising and the negotiation of more favorable terms with GDSs.

Cost of Revenue

Cost of revenue increased from $126.7 million in 2016 to $142.5 in 2017, or an increase of 13%. The increase was a result of an increase in the installments expenses related to the increase in the number of transactions as well as higher financing costs from the third party banks providing the installment plans. Credit card merchant fees also increased due to the higher mix of Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products where we are the merchant of record and incur a credit card merchant fee, as well as the greater instances in which we were also the merchant of record in Air transactions. These increased costs were partially offset by a decrease in the fraud expense due to our implementation of more effective anti-fraud protocol at the beginning of 2016. As a percentage of revenue, cost of revenue decreased from 31% in 2016 to 27% in 2017.

Gross Profit

Gross profit increased from $284.5 million in 2016 to $381.4 in 2017, or an increase of 34%, mainly due to the higher revenue margin from the Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment which has higher margins. As a percentage of revenue, gross profit increased from 69.2% in 2016 to 72.8% in 2017.

 

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Selling and Marketing

Selling and marketing expense increased from $121.5 million in 2016 to $166.2 million in 2017, or an increase of 37%. The increase was a result of our continued investments to build brand awareness and to increase market share as well as our reduction in selling and marketing expenses during 2016 in response to an increase in fraud activity at the end of 2015. As a percentage of revenue, selling and marketing expense increased from 29.5% in 2016 to 31.7% in 2017.

General and Administrative

General and administrative expense increased from $64.7 million in 2016 to $72.6 million in 2017, or an increase of 12%. The increase was a result of a higher share-based compensation and higher bonus accrual resulting from our improved performance, as well as an increase in personnel costs due to a higher headcount and higher consulting expenses, partially offset by severance expenses in the fourth quarter of 2016. As a percentage of revenue, general and administrative expense declined from 15.7% in 2016 to 13.9% in 2017.

Technology and Product Development

Technology and product development expense increased from $63.3 million in 2016 to $71.3 million in 2017, or an increase of 13%. The increase was a result of higher personnel costs. As a percentage of revenue, technology and product development expense declined from 15.4% in 2016 to 13.6% in 2017.

Operating Income

In 2017, we had an operating income of $71.2 million as compared to our operating income of $35.1 million in 2016, or an increase in operating income of $36.1 million. As a percentage of revenue, our operating income increased from 8.5% in 2016 to 13.6% in 2017.

The following table presents a breakdown of our operating income by our two business segments.

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016  
     (in thousands)  

Air

   $ 56,532      $ 23,841  

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products

     28,785        16,801  

Unallocated corporate expenses

     (14,078      (5,555
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total operating income

   $ 71,239      $ 35,087  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Corporate expense allocation is based on the expenses planned in the annual budget, and variances to the budget are also recorded in unallocated corporate expenses. Unallocated corporate expenses in both 2017 and 2016 were more than expected as compared to the annual budget which is used as the basis of allocation. Expenses were more than budgeted due to an increase in stock compensation expense, consulting expenses, management bonus accrual and management personnel expense as compared to the annual budget.

Air Segment. Our operating income from our Air segment increased from $23.8 million in 2016 to $56.5 million, primarily due to an increase in Air revenue and a reduction in fraud expenses. As a percentage of revenue from our Air segment, our operating income from our Air segment increased from 11.6% in 2016 to 23.4% in 2017.

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products Segment. Our operating income from our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment increased from $16.8 million in 2016 to $28.8 million in 2017, primarily due to an increase in revenue from this segment, partially offset by higher deferred revenue during 2017. As a percentage of revenue from our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment, our operating income from our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment increased from 8.2% in 2016 to 10.2% in 2017.

Financial Income / (Expense)

Financial expense increased by 150%, from $6.8 million in 2016 to $16.9 million in 2017. The increase was primarily a result of increased factoring activity in Brazil related to the increase in number of transactions and gross bookings, as well as a lower foreign exchange gain due to the lower rates of depreciation in local currencies. As a percentage of revenue, financial expense increased from 1.6% in 2016 to 3.2% in 2017.

 

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Income Tax Expense

We are subject to taxes in the multiple jurisdictions where we operate. Our tax obligations consist of current and deferred income taxes (or, in certain jurisdictions, taxes based on our assets rather than our taxable income) and withholding taxes incurred in these jurisdictions. Income tax expense increased from $10.5 million in 2016 to $12.0 million in 2017, primarily as a result of higher pre-tax income. The effective tax rate in 2017 was 22%, compared to 37% in 2016. The lower effective rate in 2017 was due primarily to the recognition of deferred tax assets and a reversal of a tax contingency due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Year Ended December 31, 2016 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2015

 

     Year Ended December 31,        
     2016     2015        
     (in thousands)        
           % of
Revenue
          % of
Revenue
    % Change  

Revenue

          

Air

   $ 205,721       50.0     $ 219,817       52.1     (6

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products

     205,441       50.0       201,894       47.9       2  
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Total revenue

     411,162       100.0       421,711       100.0       (3

Cost of revenue

     126,675       30.8       154,213       36.6       (18
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Gross profit

     284,487       69.2       267,498       63.4       6  

Operating expenses

          

Selling and marketing

     121,466       29.5       170,149       40.3       (29

General and administrative

     64,683       15.7       78,181       18.5       (17

Technology and product development

     63,251       15.4       73,535       17.4       (14
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Total operating expenses

     249,400       60.7       321,865       76.3       (23

Operating income / (loss)

     35,087       8.5       (54,367     (12.9     NM  

Financial income / (expense)

     (6,752     (1.6     (12,905     (3.1     (48
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Net income / (loss) before income taxes

     28,335       6.9       (67,272     (16.0     NM  

Income tax expense

     10,538       2.6       18,004       4.3       NM  
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

Net income / (loss)

   $ 17,797       4.3     $ (85,276     (20.2     NM  
  

 

 

     

 

 

     

 

Note: “NM” denotes not meaningful.

Revenue

Revenue declined by 2.5%, from $421.7 million in 2015 to $411.2 million in 2016. The decline in revenue was primarily a result of a lower number of transactions, which declined by 7% from 7.7 million in 2015 to 7.2 million in 2016, and lower gross bookings, which declined by 9% from $3,596 million in 2015 to $3,260 million in 2016. The reduction in number of transactions and gross bookings was partially a result of economic weakness in our largest markets of Brazil and Argentina, including a decline in the value of the Brazilian real and the Argentine peso, which contributed to a decrease of almost 20% in the number of transactions in Brazil as travel became more expensive for our customers, as well as a decrease in the revenue per transaction expressed in dollars.

We imposed a more restrictive anti-fraud protocol in 2016 as a response to an increase in attempted fraudulent transactions, which resulted in an increased rate of rejection of legitimate transactions, also reducing gross bookings. Our anti-fraud protocols were further refined in late 2016, and we believe that we are now better able to identify fraudulent transactions while rejecting fewer legitimate transactions.

In addition, our revenue for 2016 was positively affected by $9.4 million in commissions for the release of aged payables resulting primarily from our institution of a new clause in our contracts with suppliers, as well as $6.4 million in lower deferred revenue relating to the anticipation of the currency devaluation in Argentina in December 2015, both as described below, which partially offset the decline in revenue from 2015.

 

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The following is a discussion of our revenue broken down by our two business segments: Air; and Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products.

Air Segment. The revenue in our Air segment declined by 6.4%, to $205.7 million in 2016 from $219.8 million in 2015, primarily due to (i) a decrease of 3% in the volume of Air transactions and (ii) a decrease of 4% in the average revenue per transaction for the segment, resulting from a similar decrease in our average selling price for the segment.

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products Segment. The revenue in our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment increased by 1.8%, to $205.4 million in 2016 from $201.9 million in 2015. Excluding the effects of commissions for the release of aged payables and deferred revenue, as discussed below, segment revenue would have decreased 5.4% primarily due to (i) a decrease of 11% in the volume of Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products transactions, net of (ii) an increase of 7% in the average revenue per transaction for the segment. This increase in the revenue per transaction was due to higher revenue margins and a change in product mix with an increase in the share of packages, which have the highest average revenue per transaction in the segment.

The following presents a breakdown of our revenue by: commissions, incentives and fees; advertising; commissions for the release of aged payables; and deferred revenue.

 

     Year Ended December 30,  
     2016      2015  
     (in thousands)  

Commissions, incentives and fees(1)

   $ 396,892      $ 422,554  

Advertising(1)

     7,375        7,274  

Commissions for release of aged payables

     9,378        722  

Deferred revenue

     (2,483      (8,839
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total revenue

   $ 411,162      $ 421,711  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) Net of sales tax.

In 2016, we instituted a new clause in our contracts with suppliers of prepaid products, imposing a 12-month time limit from the check-out date for our travel suppliers to invoice us for payment. As a result of that change, we were able to recognize approximately $9.4 million in revenue for release of aged payables. Although we may earn higher revenue for the release of aged payables in the future as a result of this new 12-month time limit, we do not anticipate such a large effect on our revenue in any period going forward because we recognized the effects of the new policy for prior years in 2016.

In addition, in 2016 we had a decrease of $6.4 million in deferred revenue primarily due to increased booking activity in the fourth quarter of 2015 in Argentina in anticipation of an expected significant devaluation in the peso with a new president and administration taking office in December 2015. Consistent with our accounting policies, we deferred the related revenue of refundable transactions for 2015 from these bookings until the check-outs took place in 2016.

The following table presents a breakdown of our revenue for commissions, incentives and fees by: pre-pay model; pay-at-destination model; and other.

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2016      2015  
     (in thousands)  

Pre-pay model

   $ 321,990      $ 332,277  

Pay-at-destination model

     22,907        35,495  

Other(1)

     51,995        54,782  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total revenue

   $ 396,892      $ 422,554  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) Includes incentives from our travel suppliers, primarily airlines and GDSs.

 

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Our revenue from our pre-pay model decreased by 3% in 2016, which is consistent with our decline in total revenue, as explained above. Our revenue from our pay-at-destination model declined by 36% in 2016, mainly because in 2016 we were more selective in the hotels for which we offered pay-at-destination rates, in an effort to decrease the level of bad debt, which is higher in this model. Other revenue decreased 5% in 2016, mainly due to the impact of lower Air revenue in connection with incentives provided by GDS partners.

Cost of Revenue

Cost of revenue declined from $154.2 million in 2015 to $126.7 million in 2016, or a decline of 18%. The decline was partially a result of lower fraud expense recognized in 2016 as compared to 2015, which we believe was due in part to our implementation of more effective anti-fraud protocol. Although the chargebacks that we experienced due to the heightened fraud attempts from late 2015 through 2016 were more prominent in 2016, we were able to identify the trend in fraud attempts in 2015 and we created a reserve for increased fraud expense in 2015. The decline in cost of revenue was also partially a result of improved efficiency as we were able to reduce headcount at our fulfillment center by 23% from mid-2015 to the end of 2016, and a result of the decline in revenue and gross bookings. As a percentage of revenue, cost of revenue declined from 36.6% in 2015 to 30.8% in 2016.

Gross Profit

Gross profit increased from $267.5 million in 2015 to $284.5 million in 2016, or an increase of 6%, as our reduction in cost of revenue more than offset our decline in revenue. As a percentage of revenue, gross profit increased from 63.4% in 2015 to 69.2% in 2016.

Selling and Marketing

Selling and marketing expense declined from $170.1 million in 2015 to $121.5 million in 2016, or a decline of 28.6%. The decline was partially a result of a reduction of marketing activities, totaling approximately $48.6 million, mostly in Brazil and Argentina, as we adjusted our customer acquisition strategy to balance the expansion of market share and customer profitability. The decline was also partially a result of currency depreciation, particularly the Argentine peso, relative to our reporting currency of the dollar. As a percentage of revenue, selling and marketing expense declined from 40.3% in 2015 to 29.5% in 2016.

General and Administrative

General and administrative expense declined from $78.2 million in 2015 to $64.7 million in 2016, or a decline of 17%. The decline was primarily a result of a reduction in compensation costs as a result of currency depreciation, particularly the Argentine peso, relative to our reporting currency of the dollar, as many of our general and administrative functions are located in Argentina as well as a reduction in headcount of administrative personnel, partially as a result of our use of ERP processes for certain finance and accounting functions. The decline was also partially a result of a $9.8 million tax contingency recorded in 2015. As a percentage of revenue, general and administrative expense declined from 18.5% in 2015 to 15.7% in 2016.

Technology and Product Development

Technology and product development expense declined from $73.5 million in 2015 to $63.3 million in 2016, or a decline of 14%. The decline was primarily a result of a reduction in compensation costs. The decline in compensation costs was a result of currency depreciation, particularly in the Argentine peso, as compared to our reporting currency of the dollar, as well as reductions in headcount of our travel supplier management personnel, partially as a result of automation, and of our operations and customer service personnel, primarily due to outsourcing. As a percentage of revenue, technology and product development expense declined from 17.4% in 2015 to 15.4% in 2016.

Operating Income / (Loss)

In 2015, we had an operating loss of $54.4 million as compared to operating income of $35.1 million in 2016, or an increase in operating income of $89.5 million. This increase was a result of declines in cost of revenue and in each component of our operating expenses, partially as a result of currency depreciation, particularly in the Argentine peso, as compared to our reporting currency of the dollar. These declines in expenses were partially offset by a decline in revenue. As a percentage of revenue, our operating income / (loss) increased from (12.9)% in 2015 to 8.5% in 2016.

 

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The following table presents a breakdown of our operating income / (loss) by our two business segments.

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2016      2015  
     (in thousands)  

Air

   $ 23,841      $ 1,909  

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products

     16,801        (36,255

Unallocated corporate expenses

     (5,555      (20,021
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total operating income

   $ 35,087      $ (54,367
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Corporate expense allocation is based on the expenses planned in the annual budget, and variances to the budget are also recorded in unallocated corporate expenses. Unallocated corporate expenses in both 2016 and 2015 were less than expected as compared to the annual budget which is used as the basis of allocation. Expenses were less than budgeted due to reductions in headcount and cost reduction initiatives.

Air Segment. Our operating income from our Air segment increased from $1.9 million in 2015 to $23.8 million in 2016, primarily due to (i) the recognition in 2015 of a Brazilian tax authority claim, as discussed in Note 13 to the consolidated financial statements, (ii) lower marketing and IT expenses, and (iii) lower fraud charges. As a percentage of revenue from our Air segment, our operating income from our Air segment increased from 0.9% in 2015 to 11.6% in 2016.

Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products Segment. Our operating income / (loss) from our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment increased from a $(36.3) million loss in 2015 to $16.8 million of income in 2016, primarily due to the reasons described above, which caused the variation in the Air segment, plus the effects of commissions for the release of aged payables and deferred revenue. As a percentage of revenue from our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment, our operating income / (loss) from our Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products segment increased from (18.0)% in 2015 to 8.2% in 2016.

Financial Income / (Expense)

Financial expense declined by 47.7%, from $12.9 million in 2015 to $6.8 million in 2016. The decline was primarily a result of our election to reduce our factoring of receivables for outstanding payments from third-party financial institutions relating to customer purchases using installment plans in Brazil. We reduced our use of factoring in 2016 in part to increase the total amount of our receivables denominated in Brazilian reais in order to reduce our net currency exposure to the Brazilian real. Increasing our receivables denominated in Brazilian reais reduced our net currency exposure to the Brazilian real because we also carry an accounts payable balance due to suppliers in Brazil that is also denominated in Brazilian reais. We also were able to reduce our use of factoring in part because our stronger operating cash flows in 2016 reduced our financing needs. As a percentage of revenue, financial expense declined from 3.1% in 2015 to 1.6% in 2016.

Income Tax Expense

We are subject to taxes in the multiple jurisdictions where we operate. Our tax obligations consist of current and deferred income taxes (or, in certain jurisdictions, taxes based on our assets rather than our taxable income) and withholding taxes incurred in these jurisdictions. Income tax expense decreased from $18.0 million to $10.5 million, primarily as a result of (1) lower non-deductible expenses and (2) an increase in non-taxable income.

Seasonality

We generally experience seasonal fluctuations in our financial results. Latin American travelers, particularly leisure travelers who are our primary customers, tend to travel most frequently at the end of the fourth quarter and during the first quarter of each year. Leisure travel is more common in Latin America at that time because those quarters include the summer months in the southern hemisphere, along with many school holidays and the Christmas holiday season. We typically experience a higher volume of transactions in the fourth quarter relating to travel in that period. However, many of the transactions booked in the fourth quarter relate to travel dates in the first quarter of the following fiscal year and, as a result, much of the revenue associated with those transactions is not recognized until the first quarter of the following year.

 

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Our financial results experience fluctuations due to seasonal variations in demand for travel services. Bookings for vacation and leisure travel are generally higher during the fourth quarter, although we have recognized more revenue associated with those bookings in the first quarter of each year. The decrease in our results of operations from the first quarter of 2017 to the second quarter of 2017 is primarily the result of this seasonality. For 2015 and 2016, the effects of seasonality were negated by macroeconomic conditions and other factors that impacted our results.

Quarterly Information

The following table sets forth our unaudited quarterly results and certain key business metrics for each fiscal quarter in the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016. The unaudited quarterly results set forth below have been prepared on a basis consistent with our audited consolidated financial statements, and we believe they include all normal recurring adjustments necessary for a fair statement of the financial information presented below. The following table should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.

 

     March 31,
2016
    June 30,
2016
    September 30,
2016
    December 31,
2016
    March 31,
2017
    June 30,
2017
    September 30,
2017
    December 31,
2017
 

Revenue

     95,115       98,797       106,088       111,162       124,999       123,462       131,468       144,011  

Cost of revenue

     (33,494     (33,752     (26,150     (33,279     (31,140     (35,087     (37,869     (38,383
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Gross profit

     61,621       65,045       79,938       77,883       93,859       88,375       93,599       105,628  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating expenses

                

Selling and marketing

     (28,577     (29,133     (31,374     (32,382     (35,546     (43,289     (41,097     (46,356

General and administrative

     (15,186     (13,960     (13,576     (21,961     (18,869     (18,618     (15,318     (19,821

Technology and product development

     (15,561     (15,942     (15,718     (16,030     (15,408     (17,644     (18,907     (19,349
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

     (59,324     (59,035     (60,668     (70,373     (69,823     (79,551     (75,322     (85,526
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Operating income / (loss)

     2,297       6,010       19,270       7,510       24,036       8,824       18,277       20,102  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net financial income / (expense)

     (386     (3,653     (850     (1,863     (6,156     (1,611     (2,880     (6,232
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net income / (loss) before income taxes

     1,911       2,357       18,420       5,647       17,880       7,213       15,397       13,870  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Income tax expense

     (2,646     (2,178     (4,067     (1,647     (2,486     (3,806     (4,190     (1,512
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Net income / (loss)

   $ (735   $ 179     $ 14,353     $ 4,000     $ 15,394     $ 3,407     $ 11,207     $ 12,358  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Key Business Metrics:

                

Operational

                

Number of transactions

     1,632       1,706       1,839       2,035       2,129       2,210       2,298       2,419  

Gross bookings

   $ 661,577     $ 755,413     $ 844,782     $ 998,462     $ 1,019,102     $ 1,061,026     $ 1,116,022     $ 1,258,398  

Financial

                

Adjusted EBITDA (unaudited)(1)

   $ 5,340     $ 9,241     $ 22,830     $ 11,174     $ 28,072     $ 13,155       23,027       25,100  

Net income / (loss)

   $ (735   $ 179     $ 14,353     $ 4,000     $ 15,394     $ 3,407       11,207       12,358  

Add (deduct):

                

Financial Income

     (3,108     (815     (1,708     (2,696     (448     (467     (663     (811

Financial Expense

     3,494       4,468       2,558       4,559       6,604       2,078       3,543       7,043  

Income tax expense

     2,646       2,178       4,067       1,647       2,486       3,806       4,190       1,512  

Depreciation expense

     1,265       1,263       1,450       1,111       1,343       1,362       1,337       1,033  

Amortization of intangible assets

     1,728       1,918       2,060       2,129       1,517       2,039       2,454       2,741  

Share-based compensation expense

     50       50       50       424       1,176       930       959       1,224  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

Adjusted EBITDA

   $ 5,340     $ 9,241     $ 22,830     $ 11,174     $ 28,072     $ 13,155     $ 23,027     $ 25,100  
  

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

(1) The table below provides a reconciliation of our net income/loss to Adjusted EBITDA.

Critical Accounting Policies and Use of Estimates

Critical accounting policies and estimates are those that we believe are important in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements because they require that we use judgment and estimates in applying those policies. We prepare our consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes in accordance with U.S. GAAP.

Preparation of the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report requires that we make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities as of the date of the consolidated financial statements as well as revenue and expenses during the periods reported. We base our estimates on historical experience, where applicable, and other assumptions that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances. Actual results may differ from our estimates under different assumptions or conditions.

 

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An accounting policy is considered to be critical if it requires an accounting estimate to be made based on assumptions about matters that are highly uncertain at the time the estimate is made, and if different estimates that reasonably could have been used, or changes in the accounting estimates that are reasonably likely to occur periodically, could materially impact the consolidated financial statements. We believe that the following critical accounting policies reflect the more significant estimates and assumptions used in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements. You should read the following descriptions of critical accounting policies, judgments and estimates in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report.

There are certain critical estimates that we believe require significant judgment in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements. We consider an accounting estimate to be critical if:

 

    it requires us to make an assumption because information was not available at the time or it included matters that were highly uncertain at the time we were making the estimate; and

 

    changes in the estimate or different estimates that we could have selected may have had a material impact on our financial condition or results of operations.

For more information on each of these policies, see note 3—Summary of Significant Accounting Policies, in the notes to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report. We discuss information about the nature and rationale for our critical accounting estimates below.

Accounting for Certain Pre-pay Revenue

We accrue the cost of certain pre-pay revenue based on the amount we expect to be billed by suppliers. In certain instances when a supplier invoices us for less than the cost we accrued, we generally recognize those amounts as revenue twelve months in arrears, when we determine it is not probable that we will be required to pay the supplier, based on historical experience and contract terms. Actual revenue could be greater or less than the amounts estimated due to changes in hotel billing practices or changes in traveler behavior.

Recoverability of Goodwill and Indefinite and Definite-Lived Intangible Assets

Goodwill. We assess goodwill for impairment annually as of December 31, if events and circumstances indicate impairment may have occurred. In the evaluation of goodwill for impairment, we typically first perform a qualitative assessment to determine whether it is more likely than not that the fair value of the reporting unit is less than the carrying amount. If so, we perform a quantitative assessment and compare the fair value of the reporting unit to the carrying value. If the carrying value of a reporting unit exceeds its fair value, the goodwill of that reporting unit is potentially impaired and we proceed to step two of the impairment analysis. In step two of the analysis, we will record an impairment loss equal to the excess of the carrying value of the reporting unit’s goodwill over its implied fair value should such a circumstance arise. Periodically, we may choose to forgo the initial qualitative assessment and perform quantitative analysis to assist in our annual evaluation.

We generally base our measurement of fair value of reporting units on an analysis of the present value of future discounted cash flows. The discounted cash flows model indicates the fair value of the reporting units based on the present value of the cash flows that we expect the reporting units to generate in the future. Our significant estimates in the discounted cash flows model include: our weighted average cost of capital, long-term rate of growth and profitability of our business and working capital effects.

We believe the weighted use of discounted cash flows is the best method for determining the fair value of our reporting units because these are the most common valuation methodology used within the travel and internet industries.

Indefinite-Lived Intangible Assets. We base our measurement of fair value of indefinite-lived intangible assets, which primarily consist of brands and domains, using the relief-from-royalty method. This method assumes that the brands and domains have value to the extent that their owner is relieved of the obligation to pay royalties for the benefits received from them. This method requires us to estimate the future revenue for the related brands, the appropriate royalty rate and the weighted average cost of capital.

 

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Definite-Lived Intangible Assets. We review the carrying value of long-lived assets or asset groups to be used in operations whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of the assets might not be recoverable. Factors that would necessitate an impairment assessment include a significant adverse change in the extent or manner in which an asset is used, a significant adverse change in legal factors or the business climate that could affect the value of the asset, or a significant decline in the observable market value of an asset, among others. If such facts indicate a potential impairment, we would assess the recoverability of an asset group by determining if the carrying value of the asset group exceeds the sum of the projected undiscounted cash flows expected to result from the use and eventual disposition of the assets over the remaining economic life of the primary asset in the asset group. If the recoverability test indicates that the carrying value of the asset group is not recoverable, we will estimate the fair value of the asset group using appropriate valuation methodologies, which would typically include an estimate of discounted cash flows. Any impairment would be measured as the difference between the asset groups carrying amount and its estimated fair value.

The use of different estimates or assumptions in determining the fair value of our goodwill, indefinite-lived and definite-lived intangible assets may result in different values for these assets, which could result in an impairment or, in the period in which an impairment is recognized, could result in a materially different impairment charge.

Income Taxes

We record income taxes under the liability method. Deferred tax assets and liabilities reflect our estimation of the future tax consequences of temporary differences between the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities for book and tax purposes. We determine deferred income taxes based on the differences in accounting methods and timing between financial statement and income tax reporting. Accordingly, we determine the deferred tax asset or liability for each temporary difference based on the enacted tax rates expected to be in effect when we realize the underlying items of income and expense. We consider many factors when assessing the likelihood of future realization of our deferred tax assets, including our recent earnings experience by jurisdiction, expectations of future taxable income, and the carryforward periods available to us for tax reporting purposes, as well as other relevant factors. We may establish a valuation allowance to reduce deferred tax assets to the amount we believe is more likely than not to be realized. Due to inherent complexities arising from the nature of our businesses, future changes in income tax law, tax sharing agreements or variances between our actual and anticipated operating results, we make certain judgments and estimates. Therefore, actual income taxes could materially vary from these estimates.

Other Long-Term Liabilities

Various Legal and Tax Contingencies. We record liabilities to address potential exposures related to business and tax positions we have taken that have been or could be challenged by taxing authorities. In addition, we record liabilities associated with legal proceedings and lawsuits. These liabilities are recorded when the likelihood of payment is probable and the amounts can be reasonably estimated. The determination for required liabilities is based upon analysis of each individual tax issue, or legal proceeding, taking into consideration the likelihood of adverse judgments and the range of possible loss. In addition, our analysis may be based on discussions with outside legal counsel. The ultimate resolution of these potential tax exposures and legal proceedings may be greater or less than the liabilities recorded.

Stock-Based Compensation

Our primary form of employee stock-based compensation is stock option awards. We measure the value of stock option awards on the date of grant at fair value using the appropriate valuation techniques, including the Black-Scholes and Monte Carlo option-pricing models. We amortize the fair value over the remaining term on a straight-line basis. We account for forfeitures as they occur. The pricing models require various highly judgmental assumptions including volatility and expected option term. If any of the assumptions used in the models change significantly, stock-based compensation expense may differ materially in the future from that recorded in the current period.

Recently Issued and Not Yet Adopted Accounting Pronouncements under U.S. GAAP

For information on recently issued accounting pronouncements under U.S. GAAP, see note 3 of our audited consolidated financial statements.

 

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B. Liquidity and Capital Resources

We believe, based on our current operating plan, that our existing cash and cash equivalents, together with other sources of financing and cash flows from operating activities, will be sufficient to meet our anticipated cash needs for working capital, financial liabilities, capital expenditures and business expansion for at least the next twelve months. However, we may, from time to time, explore additional financing sources to lower our cost of capital, which could include equity, equity-linked and debt financing. In addition, from time to time, we may evaluate acquisitions and other strategic opportunities. If we elect to pursue any such investments, we may fund them with internally generated funds, proceeds from our initial public offering, bank financing, the issuance of debt or equity or a combination thereof. In addition, our payment terms with our customers and suppliers often allow us to receive payment from customers before we are required to make payments to our suppliers, which also reduces our need to use external sources of financing.

The ability of certain of our subsidiaries to pay dividends to us is subject to their having satisfied requirements under local law to set aside a portion of their net income in each year to legal reserves, as described below. In accordance with Argentine and Uruguayan companies law, our subsidiaries incorporated in Argentina and in Uruguay must set aside at least 5% of their net profit (determined on the basis of their statutory accounts) in each year to legal reserves, until such reserves equal 20% of their respective issued share capital. As of December 31, 2017, our Argentine subsidiary was required to set aside a legal reserve of $0.4 million, while our Uruguayan subsidiary was required to set aside a legal reserve of $0.8 million, both of which were fully constituted.

We also maintain revolving credit facilities in certain jurisdictions to cover short-term working capital requirements. As of December 31, 2017, we had outstanding borrowings of $8.2 million.

Restricted and Unrestricted Cash and Cash Equivalents

As of December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, we had unrestricted cash and cash equivalents of $371.0 million, $76.0 million and $102.1 million, respectively. The increase in unrestricted cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2017 is largely due to the net proceeds from our initial public offering in September 2017. In addition, as of December 31, 2015 we had short-term investments of $40.0 million, with a maturity greater than three months. After December 31, 2015, those funds were reinvested in short-term investments with a maturity shorter than three months and, as a result, the amounts were classified as cash and cash equivalents rather than short-term investments as of December 31, 2016.

Additionally, as of December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, we had restricted cash and cash equivalents of $39.8 million, $43.2 million and $33.8 million, respectively, which primarily consisted of amounts held in restricted accounts to secure our obligations to various suppliers.

Positive Cash Cycle

The cash cycle in our business presents a source of working capital for our company. Our pre-pay model allows us to collect cash amounts from transactions with our customers well before we are required to make payments to our travel suppliers, which allows us to use the cash for other business purposes in the interim. Under our pre-pay model, we receive cash payments through credit card companies used by customers at or near the time of booking, and we are required to make payments related to the booking to the relevant suppliers generally two to three months afterwards, typically after the customer uses the reservation and the supplier invoices us. As of December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, we had deferred merchant bookings of $137.4 million, $84.5 million and $90.6 million, respectively.

If our pre-pay model declines relative to our pay-at-destination, model or our overall business, or if there are changes to the pre-pay model such as changes in booking patterns or customer or supplier payment terms, our overall working capital benefits could be reduced. In such event, we could be required to obtain additional working capital financing, including using factoring, which would increase our financial expense. In addition, in the event of a significantly contracting market or a prolonged market disruption, or a prolonged disruption to our platform, we could face liquidity constraints if we have used cash received from customers in our business and are not able to obtain cash through our operations or from financing to make subsequent payments to travel suppliers. In addition, a significant change in currency values could affect our payment obligations to travel suppliers, although we believe that our hedging policies mitigate our exposure to currency fluctuations.

 

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Cash Flows

Cash Flows for the Year Ended December 31, 2017 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2016

The following table sets forth certain consolidated cash flow information for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016.

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
     2017      2016  
     (in thousands)  

Net cash flows used in operating activities

   $ 61,226      $ (43,292

Net cash flows (used in) / provided by investing activities

     (18,261      14,384  

Net cash flows provided by financing activities

     254,114        5,142  

Effect of exchange rate changes on cash and cash equivalents

     (2,034      (2,382
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net increase / (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents

     295,045        (26,148
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net Cash Flows (Used in) / Provided by Operating Activities

Operating activities provided net cash of $61.2 million in 2017 and used net cash of $43.3 million in 2016. While in 2016 net cash used in operating activities was impacted by the payment of the heightened fraud attempts from late 2015, net cash in 2017 was benefitted by the increase of $36.1 million in operating income. The cash flows from operating activities during 2017 increased mainly due to the higher volume of sales under the prepay model. This had an impact in the accounts receivables and in the travel supplier payables balances.

Net Cash Flows Provided by / (Used in) Investing Activities

Investing activities used net cash of $18.2 million in 2017 and generated net cash of $14.4 million in 2016. While in 2016 cash provided by investing activities was primarily the result of the realization of a short-term investment made in 2015, in 2017 cash was impacted mainly by an increase of restricted cash caused by an increase in business volume.

Net Cash Flows Provided by Financing Activities

Financing activities provided net cash of $254.1 million in 2017 and provided net cash of $5.1 million in 2016. The net cash flows provided by financing activities in 2017 were primarily a result of the completion of our initial public offering in September 2017. The net cash flows provided by financing activities in 2016 were primarily a result of increased borrowings under our revolving credit facilities.

Currency Exchange Rates

The translation effect of converting cash held in local currencies to dollars reduced our cash and cash equivalents by $2.0 million and $2.4 million in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

Cash Flows for the Year Ended December 31, 2016 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2015

The following table sets forth certain consolidated cash flow information for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015:

 

     Year Ended December 31,  
(in thousands)    2016      2015  

Net cash flows used in operating activities

   $ (43,292    $ (24,249

Net cash flows provided by / (used in) investing activities

     14,384        (80,986

Net cash flows provided by financing activities

     5,142        198,793  

Effect of exchange rate changes on cash and cash equivalents

     (2,382      (12,478
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

Net (decrease) / increase in cash and cash equivalents

     (26,148      81,080  
  

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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Net Cash Flows Used in Operating Activities

Operating activities used net cash of $43.3 million in 2016 and $24.2 million in 2015. The increase in net cash used in operating activities was primarily the result of an increase in receivables, which was primarily a result of our decision to allow our receivables from third-party financial institutions relating to installment plan purchases in Brazil to remain outstanding for a longer period instead of factoring such receivables to receive payment more quickly. We reduced our use of factoring in 2016 in part to increase the total amount of our receivables denominated in Brazilian reais to reduce our currency risk with respect to our balance of accounts payable to suppliers in Brazil that are denominated in Brazilian reais. We also were able to reduce our use of factoring in part because our otherwise stronger operating cash flows in 2016 reduced our financing needs. The increase in cash used in operating activities was partially offset by an increase in net income in 2016.

Net Cash Flows Provided by / (Used in) Investing Activities

Investing activities provided net cash of $14.4 million in 2016 and used net cash of $81.0 million in 2015. The increase in net cash provided by investing activities was primarily the result of holding $40.0 million in short-term investments with a maturity longer than three months in 2015, which was classified as a short-term investment, and then reinvesting that $40.0 million in investments with a maturity shorter than three months in 2016, which was classified as cash and cash equivalents. The increase in net cash flows from investing activities was also impacted by a decrease in investment in intangible assets in 2016. In addition, in 2015 we pledged $10.0 million of cash to Expedia, which was then classified as restricted cash (see note 14 to our audited consolidated financial statements).

Net Cash Flows Provided by Financing Activities

Net cash flows provided by financing activities were $198.8 million in 2015 and $5.1 million in 2016. The net cash flows provided by financing activities in 2015 were primarily a result of Expedia’s investment in the common stock of Decolar.com, Inc. (our predecessor), which provided us with $270.0 million, of which $45.0 million was used to repurchase shares from other stockholders and $50.0 million was used to repay a portion of our indebtedness. The net cash flows provided by financing activities in 2016 were primarily a result of increased borrowings under our revolving credit facilities.

Currency Exchange Rates

The translation effect of converting cash and cash equivalents held in local currencies to dollars reduced our cash and cash equivalents by $12.5 million and $2.4 million in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

 

C. Research and Development, Patents and Licenses

Our technology and product development activities are primarily focused on the development of software, which we view as an important element of the investments we make in our technology and our business. Our primary software development activities have been focused on providing an effective and engaging platform for our customers and on collecting and using data to better customize the user experience, pricing and marketing efforts for our customers. In 2017, 2016 and 2015, we spent $71.3 million, $63.3 million and $73.5 million, respectively, on software development and other technology and product development activities.

 

D. Trend Information

In addition to the information set forth in this section, additional information about the trends affecting our business can be found in “—A. Key Trends and Factors Affecting Our Business.” You should also read our discussion of the risks and uncertainties that affect our business in “Item 3. Key Information— D. Risk Factors.”

Macroeconomic and Political Environment Conditions in the Countries in which We Operate

Our customers are primarily located in Latin America, particularly in Brazil and Argentina, and to a lesser extent in Mexico and other countries in the region. Our results of operations and financial condition are significantly influenced by political and economic developments in the countries in which our customers reside and, to a lesser extent, in the countries to which our customers may travel, and the effect that these factors may

 

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have on the availability of credit, employment rates, disposable income, average wages and demand for travel in those countries. In the mid- to long-term, we believe that macroeconomic changes in the region will generally benefit us due to an expanding middle class, increasing disposable income, reduced unemployment and lower interest rates, among other factors.

Currency Exchange Rates

We report our financial results in dollars, but most of our revenue and expenses are denominated in local currencies. Any changes in the exchange rates of any such currencies against the dollar will affect our reported financial results as translated into dollars. Furthermore, many of our customers travel internationally and any changes in the exchange rate between their home currency and the currency of their destination may influence their travel purchases.

Inflation

Historically, certain countries in Latin America, such as Argentina, have experienced high rates of inflation. Changes in inflation rates can affect our pricing as well as our expenses, including employee salaries, and the inflation rates in the countries where we generate revenue in any period may be higher or lower than the inflation rates in the countries where we incur expenses. In addition, higher inflation may lead our customers to make more purchases using installments or other financing options, which may result in an increase in the costs associated with offering such financing options to our customers.

Below is a summary of certain macroeconomic data for Brazil and Argentina, our two largest markets, for 2017, 2016 and 2015:

 

Brazil

 
     2017     2016     2015  

Real GDP growth (decline)(1)

     1.0     (3.6 )%      (3.8 )% 

Population (in millions)(1)

     208       207       205  

Inflation(1)

     2.9     6.3     10.7

Exchange rate(2)

     3.3080       3.2591       3.9048  

 

(1) Source: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica (IBGE), measured in local currency.
(2) Source: Banco Central do Brasil. Data as of December 31 of each year.

 

Argentina

 
     2017     2016     2015  

Real GDP growth (decline)(1)

     2.9     (2.2 )%      2.6

Population (in millions)(1)

     44.04       43.59       43.13  

Inflation(1)

     25     41     27

Exchange rate(2)

     18.90       16.10       13.30  

 

(1) Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Censos (INDEC), measured in local currency.
(2) Source: Banco de la Nación Argentina. Data as of December 31 of each year.

 

E. Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

As of December 31, 2017, except for operating lease obligations as described above, we did not have any material off-balance sheet arrangements.

 

F. Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations

The following table represents our contractual commitments as of December 31, 2017:

 

     Payments Due by Period  
            Within                       
(in thousands)    Total      1 Year      2-3 Years      4-5 Years      After 5 Years  

Operating lease obligations

   $ 13,230      $ 4,036      $ 7,023      $ 2,171        —    

Other long-term liabilities(1)

     125,000        —          —          —          125,000  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total contractual obligations

   $ 138,230      $ 4,036      $ 7,023      $ 2,171      $ 125,000  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

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(1) We may be required to make a termination payment of $125.0 million to Expedia if, among other things, we elect to terminate the Expedia Outsourcing Agreement on or after March 6, 2022 or the marketing fee threshold of $5.0 million over a rolling six month period is not achieved. Such amount is reflected as a long-term liability on our balance sheet. For more information on our relationship of Expedia, see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions —B. Related Party — Relationship with Expedia.” Since we entered into the Expedia Outsourcing Agreement in March 2015, we have not failed to meet the required threshold. Our average margin from March 2015 through December 2017 has been 207% of the threshold, with our lowest margin being 151% of the threshold during the six-month period ended September 2015 and our highest margin being 282% of the threshold during the six-month period ended December 2017. Although we are significantly above the required threshold and believe that we have sufficient flexibility to continue to meet the threshold on a going forward basis, our ability to do so could be impaired by a significant and prolonged disruption in the global travel industry or our platform. For more information, see “Item 3. Key Information — D. Risk Factors.”

There have been no material changes to our contractual obligations since December 31, 2017.

 

G. Safe Harbor

See “Part I. Introduction – Forward-Looking Statements.”

 

ITEM 6. DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES

 

A. Directors and Senior Management

Board of Directors

The business and affairs of the Company are managed by, or under the direction or supervision of, our board of directors. Our board of directors has all the powers necessary for managing, and for directing and supervising, the business and affairs of the Company and may exercise all the powers of the Company and do all such lawful acts and things as are not by applicable law or our memorandum and articles of association required to be exercised or done by our shareholders. Accordingly, our board of directors have significant discretion (and, regarding the vast majority of management and governance matters, exclusive discretion) in the management and control of our business and affairs.

Our board of directors consists of seven members. Our memorandum and articles of association authorize us to have seven directors or such other number of directors as is from time to time fixed by resolution of the board.

Our board of directors is divided into three classes designated as the “Class I Directors,” “Class II Directors” and “Class III Directors.” Pursuant to our memorandum and articles of association, each of our directors is appointed at an annual meeting of shareholders for a period of three years, with each director serving until the third annual meeting of shareholders following his or her election (except that the terms of the current Class I Directors, Class II Directors and Class III Directors will expire at our annual meetings in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively). Upon the expiration of the term of a class of directors, candidates will be elected (or re-elected, as the case may be) as directors of that particular class for three-year terms at the annual meeting of shareholders in the year of such expiration. Our directors are divided among the three classes as follows:

 

    the Class I Directors are Adam Jay and one vacancy, and their terms will expire at the annual meeting of stockholders to be held in 2018;

 

    the Class II Directors are Martín Rastellino and Mario Eduardo Vázquez, and their terms will expire at the annual meeting of stockholders to be held in 2019; and

 

    the Class III Directors are Nilesh Lakhani, Jason Lenga and Damián Scokin, and their terms will expire at the annual meeting of stockholders to be held in 2020.

Elections will take place by a plurality of the votes of the shares present in person or represented by proxy at the annual meeting and entitled to vote on the election of directors. No director may be elected or re-elected at any special meeting of our shareholders.

In March 2018, Gary Morrison resigned from his position as Class I Director and our board of directors appointed Adam Jay to fill Mr. Morrison’s position as Class I director. Adam Jay will serve as a Class I Director until our annual meeting of stockholders to be held in 2018. In April 2018, Rodrigo Catunda resigned from his position as Class I Director. As of the date of this Annual Report, our board of directors has not appointed a new director to fill Mr. Catunda’s position and, as a result, there is currently a vacancy on our board.

 

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The following table presents the names and ages of the members of our board of directors:

 

Name

   Age   

Position

Jason Lenga

   43   

Chairman of the Board and Director

Damián Scokin

   51   

Chief Executive Officer and Director

Nilesh Lakhani

   58   

Director

Adam Jay

   42   

Director

Martín Rastellino

   47   

Director

Mario Eduardo Vázquez

   82   

Director

Our board of directors has the exclusive power to fill any vacancy arising on the board from time to time and to increase the size of the board of directors from time to time and appoint additional directors in connection therewith. Our shareholders may not vote to fill any vacancy or to change the size of our board.

A director of the Company may only be removed: (i) with cause, by a resolution approved by shareholders holding not less than two-thirds of the voting rights at a meeting of shareholders called for the stated purpose of removing the director or for stated purposes including the removal of the director, or (ii) with cause, by a resolution approved by directors holding not less than two-thirds of the voting rights of all of those directors entitled to vote on the resolution at a meeting of directors or by way of unanimous written consent of those directors entitled to vote on the removal. See “Item 16G. Corporate Governance—Differences in Corporate Law” for further information.

The following is a brief summary of the business experience of our directors. The current business addresses for our directors is Juana Manso 999, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina (C1107CBR).

Jason Lenga has served as a member of our board of directors and as chairman of our board since April 2015. Mr. Lenga is an Operating Partner at Tiger Global Australia Pty Ltd, which he joined in 2015. Prior to joining Tiger Global, Mr. Lenga was a senior executive at Australian Stock Exchange listed Seek Limited, a leading global online employment marketplace. From December 1999 to June 2015, Mr. Lenga worked at Seek Limited in a variety of senior roles developing Seek’s strategic direction as well as establishing and driving key parts of its business, including the development of the group’s significant international assets. Prior to joining Seek, Mr. Lenga was a solicitor in the mergers and acquisitions practice of Mallesons Stephen Jaques, an Australian commercial law firm. Mr. Lenga also serves on the board of directors of Zhaopin Limited (NYSE: ZPIN). Mr. Lenga received a Bachelor of Laws degree and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Damián Scokin joined Despegar in December 2016 and has served as our Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) since February 2017 and as a member of our board of directors since April 2017. From November 2014 to November 2016, prior to becoming our CEO, Mr. Scokin was the CEO of Ultrapetrol (Bahamas) Limited (“Ultrapetrol”), where he continues to be a member of the company’s board of directors. Mr. Scokin helped navigate Ultrapetrol through its negotiations with creditors as a result of adverse market conditions in the energy and natural resources sectors, which, subsequent to his departure as CEO of the company, resulted in the filing of a Chapter 11 prepackaged reorganization plan agreement with a U.S. bankruptcy court at the beginning of 2017. From 2005 to 2014, Mr. Scokin held several positions within the LATAM Airlines Group. From 2012 to 2014, Mr. Scokin served as CEO for LATAM’s International Business Unit, where he was in charge of leading the merger and integration process of LAN Airlines, the biggest airline in Chile, and TAM Linhas Aereas, one of Brazil’s leading airlines. Prior to the merger process, Mr. Scokin worked as CEO for the International Business Unit of Lan Airlines in Chile and as CEO for LAN Argentina before that, where he was in charge of the company’s startup and early development in Argentina. Mr. Scokin started his career in 1995 as an associate of Mckinsey & Company in Boston, where he eventually became partner. Mr. Scokin holds Bachelor degrees in Economics and Industrial Engineering from the University of Buenos Aires and a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Nilesh Lakhani has served as a member of our board of directors since October 2012. Mr. Lakhani serves on the board of directors of Netshoes (Cayman) Limited (NYSE: NETS) and, from 2013 to 2014, served on the board of directors of QIWI plc (Nasdaq: QIWI). Mr. Lakhani has been an Operating Partner at Lumia Capital LLC, an emerging markets focused technology venture fund since 2015 and has also held key executive positions with

 

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growth companies in the technology, media and financial services industries. From 2010 to 2012, he was the Chief Financial Officer of oDesk Corporation. Prior to that, from 2007 to 2010, he was the Chief Financial Officer of Yandex N.V. (Nasdaq: YNDX). He also served as Chief Financial Officer of CTC Media, Inc. (Nasdaq: CTCM) from 2004 to 2007. Prior to that, Mr. Lakhani was the Chief Financial Officer of Pogo.com, and was Vice President of Global Operations at Electronic Arts after it acquired Pogo.com. Mr. Lakhani also served as senior vice president with Transamerica Corporation from 1991 to 1997, and worked with GE Capital from 1984 to 1991. Mr. Lakhani received a Bachelor degree in Economics from the University of Manchester and a Masters in Business Administration in Finance from the University of San Francisco.

Adam Jay has served as a member of our board of directors since March 2018. Mr. Jay is Senior Vice President Global Products and Marketing at Hotels.com, an Expedia Group, Inc. brand. Mr. Jay joined Expedia Group in February 2012. From 2007 until 2012, he served as VP of Strategy and Global Transformation at Travelport plc. Prior to that, he led Product for Avis Europe plc (now Avis Budget Group) and also spent a number of years at Boston Consulting Group. Mr. Jay currently serves on the board of Checkatrade.com, a UK-based subsidiary of Homeserve plc. He has an MBA from INSEAD and an MA (Hons) in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University.

Martín Rastellino has served as a member of our board of directors since June 2017. Mr. Rastellino is a co-founder of the Company and has been extensively involved in the management of the Company from 1999 until June 2017. He has served as our Chief Operating Officer and Head of Hotels Business, among other key managerial positions. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Rastellino served as a Manager for Teleglobe in the United States and has also worked as an auditor for Arthur Andersen in Argentina between 1993 and 1997. Mr. Rastellino received a Bachelor degree in Public Accounting from the University of Buenos Aires and a Masters in Business Administration from Duke University.

Mario Eduardo Vázquez has served as a member of our board of directors since August 2014. From June 2003 to November 2006, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Grupo Telefónica in Argentina. Prior to that, Mr. Vázquez worked in auditing for Arthur Andersen for 33 years, including as a partner and general director covering Latin American markets, including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Mr. Vázquez previously taught as a professor of Auditing at the Economics School of the Universidad de Buenos Aires. Mr. Vázquez also serves on the board of directors and is president of the Audit Committee of Globant S.A. (NYSE: GLOB) and MercadoLibre, Inc. (NYSE: MELI) He has also served as a member of the board of directors of Telefónica Argentina S.A., Telefónica Holding Argentina S.A., Telefónica S.A. (Spain), Banco Santander Rio S.A., Banco Supervielle Societe General S.A., and CMF Banco S.A., and as alternate member of the board of directors of Telefónica de Chile S.A. Mr. Vázquez also previously served as a member of the board of directors and as the president of the Audit Committee of YPF, S.A. (NYSE: YPF) Mr. Vázquez received a Bachelor degree in Public Accounting from the Universidad de Buenos Aires.

Executive Officers

The following table lists the current executive officers of our group:

 

Name

   Age   

Position

Damián Scokin

   51   

Chief Executive Officer

Michael Doyle

   47   

Chief Financial Officer

Juan Pablo Alvarado

   48   

General Counsel

Gonzalo García Estebarena

   37   

Commercial Director

Sebastián Mackinnon

   46   

Head of Air

Martín Molinari

   46   

Head of Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products

Pablo Montivero Araya

   49   

Head of Distribution

The following is a brief summary of the business experience of our executive officers who are not also directors. Unless otherwise indicated, the current business addresses for our executive officers is Juana Manso 999, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina (C1107CBR).

Michael Doyle has served as our Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) since June 2013. Prior to becoming our CFO, Mr. Doyle was the Chief Financial Officer of eLong, Inc, a formerly Nasdaq-listed, online travel company in China. Mr. Doyle was also the Chief Financial Officer of Expedia Asia Pacific, a division of Expedia, based in Hong Kong and Seattle. Prior to Expedia, Mr. Doyle worked as Chief Financial Officer of Teledesic, a Seattle-based broadband communications company founded by Craig McCaw and Bill Gates. Mr. Doyle started his

 

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career as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley & Company in New York and Singapore. While in Singapore, he also worked for the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, structuring private equity investments in Southeast Asia. Mr. Doyle holds a Bachelor degree in Finance from Southern Methodist University and a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Juan Pablo Alvarado has served as our General Counsel since August 2015. From December 2014 to July 2015, Mr. Alvarado served as Of Counsel at Estudio Beccar Varela. From 2006 to 2013, Mr. Alvarado served as General Counsel and member of the Executive Committee of El Tejar Limited. From 2001 to 2006, he served in various positions at Mondeléz International, most recently as the Legal Director for the Southern Cone Region in South America. Mr. Alvarado also serves as a member of the board of directors of Asociación Latinoamerica de Internet and served as President of Fundación para la Integración Social Oscar Alvarado, a not-for profit organization. Mr. Alvarado received a high school diploma from Colegio Cardenal Newman, Law degree from the Universidad Católica Argentina de Derecho and a Master of Laws degree from Duke University.

Gonzalo García Estebarena has served as our Commercial Director, overseeing Air and Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products, since September 2017. Prior to joining us, he held several positions at LATAM Airlines Group from 2011 to 2017, including Vice President of International Revenue Management and Global Head of Sales. Prior to that, Mr. García Estebarena was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company from 2003 to 2011. Mr. García Estebarena received a Bachelor degree in Electronic Engineering from the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA) and a Masters in Business Administration with Distinction from Harvard Business School.

Sebastián Mackinnon has served as our Head of Air, with a regional scope, since December 2015. From October 2001 to December 2015, Mr. Mackinnon served in various positions at Diageo plc, an international alcoholic beverages company, mostly recently as General Manager covering Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Prior to thank, Mr. Mackinnon held various positions at Mondeléz International and Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Mr. Mackinnon received a high school diploma from Colegio Cardenal Newman, a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from the Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina and a Masters in, Business Administration from the CEMA University in Buenos Aires.

Martín Molinari has served as our Head of Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products since March 2017. Prior to that, Mr. Molinari served as our Head of Cross-Selling from March 2013 to March 2017 and as our Mexico Country Manager from August 2005 to February 2013. Prior to that, Mr. Molinari served as General Manager for Iberojet Internacional, a tour operator that is a division of Iberostar Group. Mr. Molinari received a Bachelor degree in Tourism Business Management from the Universidad de Morón. Mr. Molinari is based in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Pablo Montivero Araya has served as our Head of Distribution since February 2015 with responsibilities for overseeing all countries as well as distribution channels and loyalty programs. Prior to joining us, he served in various positions at PepsiCo, Inc., most recently as Senior Vice President and General Manager for PepsiCo Foods South Cone. Mr. Montivero Araya received a Bachelor degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad de Buenos Aires and a Masters in Business Administration in International Business from the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Mr. Montivero Araya is based in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Family Relationships

There are no family relationships among any of our directors or executive officers.

 

B. Compensation

Compensation of Directors and Executive Officers

For the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, the aggregate compensation to the officers and independent members of our board of directors amounted to $6,259,454, $4,418,091 and $1,538,406, respectively. We did not pay any compensation to the remaining directors in 2016 and 2015, and did not pay any other cash compensation or benefits in kind to our directors in 2017, 2016 and 2015, other than the equity awards described under “—Equity Incentive Plans.” Additionally, during 2015 and 2016 we entered into certain severance and non-compete arrangements with our founders, including a founder who is currently a member of our board of directors and our audit committee. For more information, see note 14 to our audited consolidated

 

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financial statements included in this Annual Report. Our officers receive comparable benefits generally provided to our employees, such as pension, retirement and health insurance coverage, with some variations with regard to company car benefits and levels of health insurance coverage. For information regarding share options and RSUs granted to our current officers and directors, see “—Equity Incentive Plans.”

Equity Incentive Plans

Our board of directors has adopted two stock option plans, namely, the 2015 Stock Option Plan (the “2015 Plan”) and Amended and Restated 2016 Stock Incentive Plan (the “2016 Plan” and, together with the 2015 Plan, the “Plans”). The terms of the 2015 Plan and the 2016 Plan are substantially similar. The purpose of these plans is to attract and retain the best available personnel for positions of substantial responsibility, to provide additional incentive to employees, outside directors and consultants, and to promote the success of our business. Our board of directors believes that our Company’s long term success is dependent upon our ability to attract and retain superior individuals who, by virtue of their ability and qualifications, make important contributions to our business.

On March 6, 2015, we granted 90,626 RSUs under the 2015 Plan. Each RSU represents the right to receive one ordinary share. We will not issue any additional awards under the 2015 Plan to our employees.

We have reserved 4,861,777 ordinary shares for issuance under our 2016 Stock Incentive Plan, of which 3,900,000 stock options were issuable upon the exercise of outstanding equity awards and 465,518 RSUs were authorized for granting by our board on March 1, 2018.

Administration. The Plans are administered by our board of directors or a committee designated by our board of directors constituted to comply with applicable laws. In each case, our board of directors or the committee it designates will determine the provisions, terms and conditions of each award.

Eligibility. Only employees, outside directors and consultants are eligible for the grant of non-incentive stock options (“NSOs”), and the direct award or sale of shares or RSUs or other share-based awards, in the case of the 2016 Plan. Only employees are eligible for the grant of incentive stock options (“ISOs”). The term “option” as used in this section refers to both NSOs and ISOs.

Moreover, a person who owns more than 10% of the total combined voting power of all classes of our outstanding share capital is not eligible for ISO grants unless (i) the exercise price is at least 110% of the fair market value of a share on the date of the grant and (ii) such ISO by its terms is not exercisable after the expiration of five years from the date of the grant.

Vesting Schedule. Options, other share-based awards and RSUs may be subject to vesting requirements, as set forth in the applicable award agreement. In the case of the currently outstanding RSUs, that were granted prior to our initial public offering, two vesting requirements must be satisfied on or before the expiration date in order for the ordinary shares subject to the award to vest: (i) a time-based service requirement where a portion of the RSUs vest in each of three years from the grant date, provided that the recipient remains in continuous service through each applicable date and (ii) a requirement that the Company completes an initial public offering or change of control event (the “Liquidity Event Requirement”). If the Liquidity Event Requirement is triggered by an initial public offering, it will be deemed satisfied upon the earliest of (i) the 181st day following the initial public offering; (ii) the March 15th following the year in which the initial public offering occurs, or (iii) the expiration date. In addition, the RSUs that were authorized for granting by our board in March 2018 are subject to (i) a time-based service requirement by which vesting occurs in installments over five years and (ii) a performance-based vesting requirement on the basis of our future EBITDA. The options granted under the 2016 Plan also feature both (i) a time-based service requirement, by which vesting occurs in installments over five years and (ii) a Liquidity Event Requirement. In the case of the options granted under the 2016 Plan, if the Liquidity Event Requirement is triggered by an initial public offering then it will be deemed satisfied upon the earliest of (i) the 181st day following the initial public offering and (ii) the day immediately preceding the expiration date. In addition, in the case of options granted under the 2016 Plan to our Chief Executive Officer and his direct reports, if the optionee is subject to an involuntary termination without cause within 12 months after a change of control event occurs, then his or her options immediately vest and become exercisable with respect to all then-unvested shares upon such termination, and the time-based service requirement is deemed to have been satisfied with respect to all shares subject to those options. As of the date of this Annual Report, the Liquidity Event Requirement for all outstanding options and RSUs has been satisfied.

 

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Award Agreement. Awards granted under the Plans are evidenced by an award agreement providing for the number of ordinary shares subject to the award, and the terms and conditions of the award.

Transfer Restrictions. Options, other share-based awards and RSUs may not be transferred other than by will or the laws of succession or by gift or domestic relations order to an immediate family member of the optionee or, in the case of options under the 2016 Plan, a trust established by the optionee for the benefit of the optionee and/or one or more of the optionee’s immediate family, and are exercisable during the lifetime of the optionee only by the optionee or by the optionee’s guardian or legal representative.

Exercise of Awards. The term of options may not exceed ten years from the date of grant. The consideration to be paid for our ordinary shares upon exercise of an option will be determined by the stock option plan administrator and may include cash or cash equivalents, a promissory note, ordinary shares, delivery of an irrevocable direction to a securities broker appointed by us to sell the shares and deliver all or part of the proceeds to us, consideration received by us under a cashless exercise program implemented by us, or any other form of payment permitted by applicable law. No cash consideration is required of the recipient in connection with the grant of the RSUs.

Termination of Awards. Where the option agreement permits the exercise of the options granted for a certain period of time following the recipient’s termination of service with us, or the recipient’s disability or death, the options will terminate to the extent not exercised on the last day of the specified period or the last day of the original term of the options, whichever occurs first. Unvested RSUs are forfeited to us upon the recipient’s termination of service with us. Treatment of other share-based awards upon a termination of service are as set forth in the award agreement.

Third-Party Acquisition. If a third-party acquires us through the purchase of all or substantially all of our assets, a merger or other business combination, all outstanding awards will be treated in the manner described in the definitive transaction agreement (or, in the event the transaction does not entail a definitive agreement to which we are party, in the manner determined by our board of directors in its capacity as administrator of the Plans, with such determination having final and binding effect on all parties), which agreement or determination need not treat all awards (or all portions of an award) in an identical manner.

Amendment, Suspension or Termination. Our board of directors has the authority to amend, suspend or terminate the Plans at any time and for any reason, without shareholder approval, except to the extent required by applicable law. Unless terminated earlier, the Plans will terminate automatically ten years from the later of (i) the date when the Plan was adopted or (ii) the date when our board of directors approved the most recent increase in the number of shares reserved for issuance; provided that the ability to grant ISOs under the 2016 Plan will terminate on the tenth anniversary of the date when the maximum number of shares reserved for ISOs was approved by our shareholders. As noted above, no further awards will be granted under our 2015 Plan.

 

C. Board Practices

For information about the date of expiration of the current term of office and the period during which each director and executive officer has served in such office, see “—A. Directors and Senior Management.” For information about contracts for benefits upon termination of employment, see “—B. Compensation.”

Board Committees

Our board of directors may establish committees from time to time with such responsibilities as determined by our board. Members will serve on these committees until their resignation or until otherwise determined by our board. Our board of directors have established an audit committee, as described below.

Audit Committee

Our audit committee consists of Mario Eduardo Vázquez, Nilesh Lakhani and Martin Rastellino, with Mr. Vázquez serving as chair. Messrs. Vázquez and Lakhani satisfy the independence requirements of Rule 10A-3 under the Exchange Act. Our board of directors also has determined that Messrs. Vázquez, Lakhani and Rastellino qualify as audit committee financial experts within the meaning of the SEC rules. Our audit committee oversees our accounting and financial reporting processes and the audits of our consolidated financial statements. Our audit committee is responsible for, among other things:

 

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    selecting our independent auditors and pre-approving all auditing and non-auditing services permitted to be performed by our independent auditors;

 

    regularly reviewing the independence of our independent auditors;

 

    reviewing all related party transactions on an ongoing basis;

 

    discussing the annual and quarterly audited consolidated financial statements with management and our independent auditors;

 

    periodically reviewing and reassessing the adequacy of our audit committee charter;

 

    meeting separately and periodically with management and our internal and independent auditors;

 

    reporting regularly to our full board of directors; and

 

    such other matters that are specifically delegated to our audit committee by our board of directors from time to time.

 

D. Employees

As of December 31, 2017, we had 2,961 employees. We also contracted with certain third-party providers to support our call center employees. As of December 31, 2017, we contracted hours equivalent to approximately 364 outsourced employees. The following tables show a breakdown of our employees as of December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 by category of activity.

 

     Number of Employees as of  

Division/Function

  

 

     December 31,     

 

 
     2017      2016      2015  

Operations and customer service

     1,068        1,161        1,493  

Sales and marketing

     201        177        194  

Technology and content

     1,081        1,010        1,053  

General and administrative(1)

     566        550        662  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

Total

     2,961        2,898        3,402  
  

 

 

    

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

(1) Includes business development, administration, finance and accounting, legal and human resources.

As of December 31, 2017, 351 of our employees in Argentina, all of our employees in Brazil and all of our employees in Mexico were represented by labor unions. We believe that our relations with our employees are good and we implement a variety of human resources practices, programs and policies that are designed to hire, retain, develop and compensate our employees.

We have attracted and retained outstanding individuals over the years and we strive to bring more talent by hiring individuals with internet-related experience. We believe our future success will depend on our ability to attract and retain capable professionals.

 

E. Share Ownership

The following table sets forth information regarding the beneficial ownership of our ordinary shares as of March 31, 2018 by (1) each of our directors and executive officers and (2) all of our directors and executive officers as a group.

In computing the number of ordinary shares beneficially owned by a person or entity and the percentage ownership of that person or entity, we deemed to be outstanding all ordinary shares subject to options or RSUs held by that person or entity that are currently exercisable or that will become exercisable or vested, as applicable, within 60 days of March 31, 2018. We did not deem these shares outstanding, however, for the purpose of computing the percentage ownership of any other person or entity. Unless otherwise indicated, the address of each beneficial owner listed in the table below is Juana Manso 999, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina (C1107CBR).

 

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     Outstanding Ordinary Shares as of
March 31, 2018
 

Name of Beneficial Owner

   Number      %  

Directors and Executive Officers:

     

Rodrigo Catunda(1)

     —          —    

Nilesh Lakhani(2)

     7,929        *  

Jason Lenga(3)

     —          —    

Adam Jay

     —          —    

Martín Rastellino(4)

     600,000        *  

Damián Scokin(5)

     30,000        *  

Mario Eduardo Vázquez

     —          —    

Juan Pablo Alvarado(6)

     14,000        *  

Michael Doyle(7)

     100,626        *  

Gonzalo García Estebarena(8)

     10,000        *  

Sebastián Mackinnon(9)

     18,000        *  

Martín Molinari(10)

     174,631        *  

Pablo Montivero Araya(11)

     32,000        *  

Directors and Executive Officers as a Group (13 persons)

     987,186        1.43  

 

* Represents beneficial ownership of less than 1%.
(1) In April 2018, Mr. Catunda resigned from his position as Class I Director. Mr. Catunda is a Vice President in General Atlantic’s São Paulo office. Mr. Catunda is not deemed to share voting or dispositive control over the shares held by the GA Funds listed in footnote 1 to the table in Item 7, “Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions” below. Mr. Catunda disclaims beneficial ownership of such shares.
(2) Consists of 7,929 ordinary shares held by Mr. Lakhani, a member of our board of directors.
(3) Mr. Lenga is an Operating Partner at Tiger Global Australia Pty Ltd. Mr. Lenga is not deemed to share voting or dispositive control over the shares held by Tiger Global listed in footnote 3 to the table in Item 7, “Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions” below. Mr. Lenga disclaims beneficial ownership of such shares.
(4) Consists of 600,000 ordinary shares held of record by Birbey S.A. Mr. Rastellino has sole voting and dispositive control over such shares and directly or indirectly owns 100% of the share capital of Birbey S.A.
(5) Does not reflect any shares that may be issued upon settlement of outstanding options which will not be exercisable within 60 days of March 31, 2018. In March 2017, Mr. Scokin was granted 400,000 options (i) 5% of which vested on December 1, 2017; (ii) 10% of which will vest on December 1, 2018; (iii) 15% of which will vest on December 1, 2019; (iv) 20% of which will vest on December 1, 2020; (v) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2021 and (vi) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2022, in each case provided that Mr. Scokin remains in continuous service as an employee, director or consultant of the Company through each applicable date. The 30,000 shares shown in the table above consist of the 20,000 options vested pursuant to the 2016 Plan and 10,000 shares acquired through the directed share program implemented in our initial public offering (the “Directed Share Program”). See “Item 6—B. Compensation.” Mr. Scokin is our Chief Executive Officer and a director.
(6) Does not reflect any shares that may be issued upon settlement of outstanding options which will not be exercisable within 60 days of March 31, 2018. In March 2017, Mr. Alvarado was granted 100,000 options (i) 5% of which vested on December 1, 2017; (ii) 10% of which will vest on December 1, 2018; (iii) 15% of which will vest on December 1, 2019; (iv) 20% of which will vest on December 1, 2020; (v) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2021 and (vi) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2022, in each case provided that Mr. Alvarado remains in continuous service as an employee, director or consultant of the Company through each applicable date. The 14,000 shares shown in the table above consist of the 5,000 options vested pursuant to the 2016 Plan and 9,000 shares acquired through the Directed Share Program. See “Item 6—B. Compensation.” Mr. Alvarado is our General Counsel.
(7) Does not reflect any shares that may be issued upon settlement of outstanding RSUs which will not be exercisable within 60 days of March 31, 2018. In March 2015, Mr. Doyle was granted 90,626 RSUs, (i) 40,626 of which vested on January 1, 2016; (ii) 20,000 of which vested on January 1, 2017; (iii) 20,000 of which vested on January 1, 2018; and (iv) 10,000 of which will vest on July 1, 2018, in each case provided that Mr. Doyle remains in continuous service as an employee, director or consultant of the Company through each applicable date. In March 2017, Mr. Doyle was granted 200,000 options (i) 5% of which vested on December 1, 2017; (ii) 10% of which will vest on December 1, 2018; (iii) 15% of which will vest on December 1, 2019; (iv) 20% of which will vest on December 1, 2020; (v) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2021 and (vi) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2022, in each case provided that Mr. Doyle remains in continuous service as an employee, director or consultant of the Company through each applicable date. The 100,626 shares shown in the table above consist of 80,626 RSUs vested pursuant to the 2015 Plan, 10,000 options vested pursuant to the 2016 Plan and 10,000 shares acquired through the Directed Share Program. See “Item 6—B. Compensation.” Mr. Doyle is our Chief Financial Officer.
(8) Does not reflect any shares that may be issued upon settlement of outstanding options which will not be exercisable within 60 days of March 31, 2018. In August 2017, Mr. García Estebarena was granted 200,000 options (i) 5% of which vested on December 1, 2017; (ii) 10% of which will vest on December 1, 2018; (iii) 15% of which will vest on December 1, 2019; (iv) 20% of which will vest on December 1, 2020; (v) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2021 and (vi) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2022, in each case provided that Mr. García Estebarena remains in continuous service as an employee, director or consultant of the Company through each applicable date. The 10,000 shares shown in the table above consist of 10,000 options vested pursuant to the 2016 Plan. See “Item 6—B. Compensation.” Mr. García Estebarena is our Commercial Director.

 

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(9) Does not reflect any shares that may be issued upon settlement of outstanding options which will not be exercisable within 60 days of March 31, 2018. In March 2017, Mr. Mackinnon was granted 200,000 options (i) 5% of which vested on December 1, 2017; (ii) 10% of which will vest on December 1, 2018; (iii) 15% of which will vest on December 1, 2019; (iv) 20% of which will vest on December 1, 2020; (v) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2021 and (vi) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2022, in each case provided that Mr. Mackinnon remains in continuous service as an employee, director or consultant of the Company through each applicable date. The 18,000 shares shown in the table above consist of 10,000 options vested pursuant to the 2016 Plan and 8,000 shares acquired through the Directed Share Program. See “Item 6—B. Compensation.” Mr. Mackinnon is our Head of Air.
(10) Does not reflect any shares that may be issued upon settlement of outstanding options which will not be exercisable within 60 days of March 31, 2018. In March 2017, Mr. Molinari was granted 200,000 options (i) 5% of which vested on December 1, 2017; (ii) 10% of which will vest on December 1, 2018; (iii) 15% of which will vest on December 1, 2019; (iv) 20% of which will vest on December 1, 2020; (v) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2021 and (vi) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2022, in each case provided that Mr. Molinari remains in continuous service as an employee, director or consultant of the Company through each applicable date. The 174,631 shares shown in the table above consists of (i) 114,631 ordinary shares held of record by Ioannis S.A.; (ii) 50,000 ordinary shares held of record by Busmont S.A.; and (iii) 10,000 options vested pursuant to the 2016 Plan. Mr. Molinari has sole voting and dispositive control over such shares and directly or indirectly owns 100% of the share capital of both Ioannis S.A. and of Busmont S.A. See “Item 6—B. Compensation.” Mr. Molinari is our Head of Packages, Hotels and Other Travel Products.
(11) Does not reflect any shares that may be issued upon settlement of outstanding options which will not be exercisable within 60 days of March 31, 2018. In March 2017, Mr. Montivero Araya was granted 200,000 options (i) 5% of which vested on December 1, 2017; (ii) 10% of which will vest on December 1, 2018; (iii) 15% of which will vest on December 1, 2019; (iv) 20% of which will vest on December 1, 2020; (v) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2021 and (vi) 25% of which will vest on December 1, 2022, in each case provided that Mr. Montivero Araya remains in continuous service as an employee, director or consultant of the Company through each applicable date. The 32,000 shares shown in the table above consist of 10,000 options vested pursuant to the 2016 plan and 22,000 shares acquired through the Directed Share Program. See “Item 6—B. Compensation.” Mr. Montivero Araya is our Head of Distribution.

For information regarding share options and RSUs held by the persons listed above, see “—Equity Incentive Plans.”

 

ITEM 7. MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

 

A. Major Shareholders

The following table sets forth information regarding the beneficial ownership of our ordinary shares as of March 31, 2018 by each person known to us to beneficially own more than 5% of any class of our outstanding voting securities.

In computing the number of ordinary shares beneficially owned by a person or entity and the percentage ownership of that person or entity, we deemed to be outstanding all ordinary shares subject to options or RSUs held by that person or entity that are currently exercisable or that will become exercisable or vested, as applicable, within 60 days of March 31, 2018. We did not deem these shares outstanding, however, for the purpose of computing the percentage ownership of any other person or entity.

 

     Outstanding Ordinary Shares as of
March 31, 2018
 

Name of Beneficial Owner

   Number      %  

% Shareholders:

     

Tiger Global(1)

     30,204,172