Thomas Cook enlists China's Fosun to salvage oldest travel firm

14 Juillet, 2019, 07:12 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
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Under the proposal, Thomas Cook will get an injection of £750 million which would provide sufficient liquidity to keep trading over the Winter 19/20 season.

According to GlobalData, a data and analytics company, Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser has confirmed that he is seeking a solution that will allow the company to continue trading in the short-term.

"We are committed investors and have extensive experience in turning around iconic brands including Club Med and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC", confidently states Fosun Tourism.

The world's oldest travel company, which has been hit by fading demand for its package holidays, high debt and a hot 2018 summer in Europe, has also been weighing approaches for its airline business and Nordic operations.

Peter Fankhauser, Chief Executive of Thomas Cook said: "After evaluating a broad range of options to reduce our debt and to put our finances onto a more sustainable footing, the Board has made a decision to move forward with a plan to recapitalise the business, supported by a substantial injection of new money from our long-standing shareholder, Fosun, and our core lending banks".

Mr Fankhauser said the sale process for the airline business was paused while Thomas Cook focused on the refinancing.

The company said that since announcing a review of its airline business in February, the operating environment in the European travel market had become progressively more challenging.

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On Friday, Thomas Cook stunned the market when it unveiled a debt-for-equity swap deal that would see conglomerate Fosun and its lending banks inject £750 million into the business to stave off a collapse. Thomas Cook is now looking for large amount of its external bank and bond debt will be changed into equity, and its existing shareholders' stakes will be diluted after the recapitalization.

Shares in Thomas Cook dived nearly 40 percent in early London trading yesterday, having risen 20 percent earlier in the week on rumors of a Fosun bid.

The British holiday company's tour business had 11 million customers in 2018 and produced £7.4 billion in revenue.

"Fosun is hoping that Thomas Cook's brand name and global reach will expand its business among wealthy Chinese tourists", Orient Capital Research managing director Andrew Collier told Bloomberg News.

It is one of China's so-called "gray rhino" companies - along with Dalian Wanda Group Co (萬達集團), HNA Group Co (海航集團) and Anbang Insurance Group Co (安邦保險集團) - that have come under growing scrutiny in the past few years from Chinese authorities wanting to crack down on debt-fueled foreign acquisitions.

The proposal is subject to due diligence and further discussion, among other things, Fosun said.

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