LoveHomeSwap, one of the UK’s best-known sharing economy start-ups, is close to being sold to the American hotels giant Wyndham in a £40m deal.
Sky News has learnt that Debbie Wosskow, LoveHomeSwap’s founder and chief executive, has struck an agreement with Wyndham Worldwide to take control of the company two years after the US hotels group originally invested in it.
Sources said the deal was expected to be announced within the next 10 days.
It will cement Ms Wosskow’s status as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Britain’s sharing economy.
She established LoveHomeSwap in 2011 as a subscription service allowing users around the world to stay in each other’s properties.
It has seen rapid growth in its popularity amid rising demand from consumers for greater choice and flexibility when they travel abroad.
Wyndham, whose brands include Ramada and Travelodge, initially invested in LoveHomeSwap in June 2015, spending £7.5m on an undisclosed minority stake, according to reports at the time.
Since then, the UK start-up has underlined its global ambitions, buying HomeForExchange, a Dutch company, in late 2015, a deal which gave the company a total inventory of more than 100,000 properties.
“We want to be to home exchange what Airbnb is to peer-to-peer rentals,” Ms Wosskow has been quoted as saying.
While LoveHomeSwap’s valuation is minuscule compared with the $31bn price tag at which Airbnb raised its latest funding round earlier this year, Wyndham’s determination to buy the company underlines the importance attached by global hotel groups to pioneering start-ups.
Last year, AccorHotels acquired the premium hospitality group Onefinestay for £117m, while InterContinental Hotels Group has backed a number of digital start-ups to tap into travellers’ demand for alternative forms of service.
LoveHomeSwap’s other shareholders include MMC Ventures, a London-based early-stage investor.
In addition to establishing LoveHomeSwap, Ms Wosskow was the founding chair of Sharing Economy UK, the trade association.
She recently set up AllBright, a funding platform aimed at providing support and finance to female business founders.
Ms Wosskow could not be reached for comment this weekend.