FLIGHT search engine pioneer Skyscanner, one of Scotland's brightest technology stars, has agreed to be acquired by Chinese company Ctrip in a £1.4 billion deal.

Scottish Equity Partners, the largest shareholder in Edinburgh-based Skyscanner, said a  definitive agreement had been reached between Ctrip and the majority shareholders of Skyscanner, including SEP, "valuing Skyscanner at approximately £1.4 billion".

SEP added that the transaction was expected to complete by the end of 2016. It said that Skyscanner’s current management team would continue to manage Skyscanner’s operations "independently" as part of the Ctrip group.

Calum Paterson, managing partner of SEP and a member of Skyscanner’s board of directors, said “We are pleased to have played our part in helping Skyscanner become one of the world’s most exciting travel search companies.

"Ctrip is the ideal partner to enable the company to extend its global reach, grow even more rapidly and continue to deliver a fantastic product that is greatly admired by travellers across the world. We are particularly pleased that Skyscanner will continue to be headquartered in Edinburgh and to operate independently. We wish the team every success in the future.”

James Jianzhang Liang, co-founder and executive chairman of Ctrip, said “Skyscanner is one of the largest travel search platforms in the world. We are excited to welcome Skyscanner into the Ctrip group. Ctrip and Skyscanner share the same passion and dedication in providing travellers around the world with better services. This acquisition will strengthen long-term growth drivers for both companies.”

Gareth Williams, co-founder and chief executive officer of Skyscanner, said: “Ctrip and Skyscanner share a common view – that organising travel has a long way to go to being solved. To do so requires powerful technology and a traveller-first approach.

"In taking the next step to achieving our goal, Skyscanner will remain operationally independent and our growing global team will continue to innovate and deliver the products travelers know and love. It’s an exciting time for our business, our partners and the travellers who use us.”

Skyscanner has a major presence in Europe and growing operations in the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas.