VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Jan. 13, 2016) - MPH Ventures Corp. (TSX VENTURE:MPS)(OTCBB:MPSFF)(FRANKFURT:IJA2) (the "Company") is pleased to provide an update to shareholders with a year-end review of the Company's activities in 2015 and as well as providing guidance on its plans for 2016. MPH Ventures had a transformative 2015 starting back in February when the Company announced that with the most significant shift in American policy towards Cuba in over fifty years management set out to evaluate potential investments in Cuba.
Jim Pettit, President and CEO of MPH Ventures, stated: "Travel restrictions that make it difficult for most Americans to visit the Caribbean island remain in place but new rules put in place by President Obama has made it much easier for permitted Americans to visit Cuba than it has been for the last half-century. We believe there is a great opportunity in buying a profitable company already doing business focused on Cuba, growing the existing Cuban travel business and website platform, positioning the company for more success when the U.S. lifts the tourist travel restrictions and ultimately the embargo, and capturing a share of the huge potential increase in interest and tourism to Cuba over the coming years. Tourism to Cuba is multi-billion dollar industry and is growing rapidly with American visitors already up 36% since Obama's announcement a year ago. MPH as a Canadian company is uniquely positioned to tap into a multi-billion dollar industry poised for significant growth as more Americans travel to Cuba yet American travel companies are prohibited from operating in Cuba and servicing this market until the embargo is lifted."
MPH started the year by announcing the appointment of Mr. Steve Marshall to its Cuban Investment Advisory Board. Mr. Marshall spent 11 years in Cuba specializing in Cuban joint ventures and successfully founded a number of companies. He was a special advisor to a number of Cuban corporations spearheading their entrance into the new economy and providing support and investment in a range of commercial sectors. He is knowledgeable concerning the idiosyncrasies of dealing with the Cuban Government and Cuba's foreign investment laws. Steve's past Cuban ventures have received coverage in the Financial Times, BBC News, CNN, Time Magazine, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal. Steve will be an integral part to the Company's success going forward.
In July of 2015, MPH announced that it had signed a Definitive Agreement with the shareholder (Steve Marshall) of Travelucion S.L. pursuant to which the Company would acquire a 20% interest in Travelucion S.L. in exchange for 4 million common shares of MPH Ventures and $100,000 in cash with an option to acquire the remaining 80% interest.
Travelucion is a cash flow positive online travel digital media company that specializes in travel marketing, electronic reservation and online booking solutions for international visitors to Cuba. It owns one of the most significant portfolios of Cuba focused web properties and domains that have been promoting Cuba and offering online travel services to the Caribbean nation since 1995. Travelucion's revenues have been increasing in the wake of the notable shift in American policy towards Cuba as diplomatic relations between the two nations normalize and with travel restrictions on Americans visiting Cuba expected to gradually relax. Online booking is one of the fastest growing sectors in the travel industry and Travelucion is poised to take advantage of this rapid growth.
Travelucion also owns 100% of 432 web assets popularizing Cuban Culture, Music, Celebrities, over sixty major tourist destinations, Golf, Banking and Commerce which collectively generate over 30 million page-views per year. Through legacy agreements with Cuba's largest travel companies, Travelucion's emblematic e-commerce brands like Havanatur.com, Cuba VIP and GoCuba provide the company with access to a broader and more diverse portfolio of national travel and tourism packages in Cuba than any other travel provider. Travelucion is also uniquely established to handle the travel requirements of qualified U.S. travelers to Cuba. This allows permitted U.S. travelers, in addition to non-U.S. travelers, the ability to indulge in high end hotel and spa accommodations or create uniquely Cuban travel packages with exclusive private home rentals, exotic/antique car services and access to a multitude of exhilarating guided or self-discovery tours across Cuba.
In September, following up on the initial proposed acquisition news release, MPH Ventures announced Travelucion had acquired an equity interest in a Cuban travel supplier that recently opened an office in Havana. This strategic acquisition further fortified the strength of Travelucion in the heart of Cuba's travel sector, complementing its online travel digital media division. A new and larger joint office was inaugurated in the trendy Miramar district of Havana in October. Due to the renewed international interest in Cuba, Travelucion is seeking to further acquire equity in its long standing service partners in an effort to vertically integrate the company and to streamline joint back office and booking mechanisms using Travelucion's proprietary Cuba centric booking platform and software.
Just last month, MPH Ventures announced Travelucion had signed an exclusive contract to begin international commercialization and marketing of Cuban medical treatments across its 432 Cuban related websites. The combination of low cost of treatment and excellent post-operative rehabilitation centres makes Cuba an ideal destination for medical tourism. The National Health System of Cuba, along with its doctors and surgeons, are world renowned as is Cuba's medical research.
Rising healthcare costs in developed countries like Canada, America and European Nations, coupled with the availability of high quality medical services at lower prices in developing nations like Cuba has led to an expansion of the medical tourism industry. Transparency Market Research (TMR), a market intelligence and research firm, has published a market study on the global medical tourism market, estimating the total value of the global medical tourism market by 2019 to be US $32.5 billion. Travelucion estimates that Cuba's nascent medical tourism sector could treat tens of thousands of patients each year generating tens of millions in health care sales, plus the additional sales related to extended stays, rehabilitation and vacation time for patients.
This contract is a significant development as it positions MPH's Travelucion within this rapidly growing industry in addition to expanding and diversifying the current business as an online travel and digital media company specializing in travel marketing, electronic reservations and online booking solutions for international visitors to Cuba. As per the contract, Travelucion will be paid a 10% commission on all medical procedures and treatments booked through its websites with procedures ranging in price from a few hundred dollars up to US +$50,000. To create a flagship website in conjunction with this contract, MPH's Travelucion will completely overhaul one of its existing medical tourism websites CubanHealth.com.
2016 Guidance and Corporate Plans:
MPH Ventures and Travelucion are gearing up for another busy, transformative year in 2016 with numerous catalysts on the horizon. MPH expects to exercise its option to purchase the remaining 80% interest for a total of 100% in Travelucion sometime in the first half of 2016 through the issuance of 16 million common shares of the Company. MPH's management continues to work diligently to prepare for the ultimate change of business that is expected to take place upon acquiring the rest of Travelucion and is subject to TSX approval.
MPH's management sees an opportunity for its shareholders in acquiring a successful company that has been servicing international visitors to Cuba for over 15 years by modernizing and updating Travelucion's main booking sites and its Cuban related sites, and leveraging the over 30 million page-views per year these sites generate to drive revenue growth. There will be additional significant upside when the U.S. lifts the tourism travel ban on Cuba and also when the embargo is lifted.
Travelucion has seen an over 300% increase in gross booking sales in 2015 as a private company. MPH's management believes by taking Travelucion public this year in Canada and with some strategic capital expenditures over the next few years, revenues and earnings will grow further by:
- Tapping into the burgeoning, yet underserviced, U.S. travel market to Cuba as well as the already significant Canadian travel market to Cuba (the majority of Travelucion's clientele are currently European and Central/South American)
- Updating and modernizing the 432 Cuban related web sites to increase and monetize traffic to the main booking sites/platform
- Hiring a sales team and enhancing the corporate profile through physical and on-line marketing
- Joining up with the major GDS central booking systems
- Continue to build on its private home (Casa Particulars) rental listings; Travelucion has been adding new listings to its platform and is looking to use a model similar to AirBNB
- Further relaxation of the U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba
Management also believes a number of U.S. based travel companies, currently restricted from doing business in and with Cuba, could possibly be interested in acquiring Travelucion once the trade embargo is lifted.
Implementation of the aforementioned revenue drivers and profit centres will be rolled out over the next twelve months to grow the business and create shareholder value. All in all, MPH is one of few opportunities currently out there for investors, including Americans, to gain investment exposure in a publicly listed Canadian company to the island of Cuba in an environment of thawing diplomatic relations between it and the U.S. Initially the business will be focused in the high-growth sectors of online travel and digital media but management expects other opportunities to arise in other sectors and industries going forward as well.
About MPH Ventures Corp.:
MPH Ventures has acquired of a 20% interest in Travelucion S.L., an online travel digital media company, with an option for a period of eight months, to acquire the remaining 80% interest subject to shareholder and TSX Venture Exchange approval. Travelucion is a cash-flow positive online travel digital media company that specializes in travel marketing, electronic reservations and online booking solutions for international visitors to Cuba. Travelucion owns one of the most significant portfolios of Cuban focused web assets, through 432 sites, which collectively generate over 30 million page-views per year and direct traffic to the main Travelucion booking site.
MPH-Travelucion Presentation: http://www.mphventurescorp.com/i/pdf/MPS_PPT.pdf
For further information on MPH Ventures Corp. (TSX VENTURE:MPS) visit the Company's website at www.mphventurescorp.com.
MPH Ventures Corp. has approx. 33.3 million shares issued and outstanding.
MPH VENTURES CORP.
JAMES G. PETTIT, President & CEO
NEITHER THE TSX VENTURE EXCHANGE NOR ITS REGULATION SERVICES PROVIDER ACCEPTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ADEQUACY OR ACCURACY OF THE CONTENT OF THIS NEWS RELEASE.
This release includes certain statements that may be deemed to be "forward-looking statements". All statements in this release, other than statements of historical facts, that address events or developments that management of the Company expects, are forward-looking statements. Although management believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results or developments may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements if management's beliefs, estimates or opinions, or other factors, should change. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements, include market prices, exploration and development successes, continued availability of capital and financing, and general economic, market or business conditions. Please see the public filings of the Company at www.sedar.com for further information.