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Fosun talks over Thomas Cook takeover deal confirmed

Wolverhampton | Business | Published:

Wolves’ owner Fosun is in active talks with Thomas Cook over a possible takeover, it has been confirmed.

Thomas Cook could be taken over by Wolves' owner Fosun

The cash-strapped travel firm, which is Wolves' official travel partner, is looking at selling up its tour operator business to the Chinese conglomerate.

The confirmation follows reports over the weekend that Fosun, already Thomas Cook’s largest shareholder, was eyeing up a deal, paving the way for the complete break-up of the British travel company.

Thomas Cook said it is in discussions with Fosun, which also owns the Club Med brand, following a preliminary approach, although there is “no certainty” this will result in a formal offer.

Shares in Thomas Cook jumped by 22 per cent in early trading yesterday following news of interest from the Chinese firm.

As well as owning Wolves, the company, which last month saw its turnover surge 24.2 per cent last year to reach a new high of £12.31 billion, has a wide range of interests.

It has a 24.5 per cent interest in Canada’s Cirque du Soleil theatre group and owns French luxury holidays company Club Med.

Its Fosun Pictures has also joined Skydance and Paramount Pictures as a global partner on the science fiction action film Gemini Man.

Thomas Cook has been grappling with a decline in bookings and uncertainty surrounding Brexit, which it said contributed to the £1.5 billion half-year loss it posted last month.

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It said the company board will “consider any potential offer” for the tour operator arm, as it looks to maximise value for shareholders.

It is understood that any deal with Fosun would not include Thomas Cook’s airline arm, due to European Union rules.

The travel company has been looking to offload it airline division since the start of this year, confirming a deadline for bids last month.

It also said last month that it had received an offer for its Scandinavian arm from private equity company Triton Partners and was evaluating the offer.

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Thomas Cook is slashing costs in the second half of its financial year in the face of tough trading and higher fuel expenses, including axing 150 roles from its head office in Peterborough.

Last month, it also signalled possible further store closures, having already announced plans in March to shut 21 stores and axe 320 retail roles.

Shares in Thomas Cook have plunged by more than 80 per cent over the past 12 months.

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