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Tripadvisor could be takeover bait

Needham company’s largest shareholder says it’s discussing an all-cash bid

Shares of Tripadvisor jumped 14 percent to $25.46 on Tuesday.KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

Online travel firm Tripadvisor could soon be weighing an acquisition offer, the company disclosed on Monday evening without naming the potential buyer.

The Needham-based travel site, which struggled during the pandemic, said its board of directors formed a special committee to “evaluate any proposals that may be brought forward for a potential transaction, and any alternatives thereto.” The company also said it hired mergers and acquisitions advisory firm Centerview Partners.

Shares of Tripadvisor jumped 14 percent to $25.46 on Tuesday. The shares had previously declined 7 percent over the past year and are down almost 80 percent from the heights reached a decade ago when Tripadvisor’s business was flourishing.

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The announcement of the special committee came after Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, a publicly traded spinoff from Liberty Interactive, said it was in discussions over an all-cash offer to buy Tripadvisor. In 2014, the holding company was spun out with a controlling stake in Tripadvisor stock. Liberty Interactive changed its name to Qurate Retail Group in 2018.

No deal to take over Tripadvisor could be completed without the approval of Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, which owns 29.2 million shares of Tripadvisor stock and controls 56.9 percent of the voting power of all shareholders, according to a Feb. 9 securities filing.

Tripadvisor chief executive Matt Goldberg, who took over for cofounder Stephen Kaufer in 2022, has been working to restore the company’s growth, which suffered a steep hit at the start of the pandemic. Goldberg has focused on adding more travel experiences for consumers that can be booked through the company’s Viator site.

The strategy appears to be working so far. Revenue increased 22 percent in the first nine months of 2023 to $1.4 billion, though the company lost $22 million compared to a profit of $22 million in the same period of 2022.

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Aaron Pressman can be reached at aaron.pressman@globe.com. Follow him @ampressman.