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Thomas Cook - a revival?

After one and a half months of uncertainty the Thomas Cook brand will finally continue to exist thanks to its takeover by the tourism branch of the Chinese conglomerate, Fosun Tourism Group. The Chinese group will also take over Casa Cook and Cook’s Club hotels.

The Chinese conglomerate announced it had signed an agreement on November 1 to acquire the Thomas Cook brand as well as a portfolio of Cook and Cook’s Club hotels for a total of 11 million pounds sterling (or close to 13 million euros). The takeover also includes rights and titles to several brands, software, applications and internet domains, as well as accounts on social networks.

Qian Jiannong, president of Fosun, a declared that the Chinese “group has always believed in the Thomas Cook brand value,” adding that:

The acquisition of the Thomas Cook brand will enable the group to develop its tourism activity by building on the reputation of the Thomas Cook brand and on the sustained growth momentum of Chinese outbound tourism.

This takeover follows the tour operator’s collapse into administration along with its subsidiaries on September 23, 2019, following negotiations that were nonconclusive during the weekend of September 21 and 22 to raise an additional £200 million for the recapitalization of the company. The company’s bankruptcy generated a crisis worldwide resulting in 600,000 tourists blocked at their destinations who needed to be urgently repatriated, including 10,000 French travelers and 150,000 British travelers. In addition, 22,000 employees found themselves jobless, including 9,000 in the United Kingdom.

The tour operator’s economic model got the better of it, with the use of a single type of multi-use aircraft as well as operating costs that were too high, in particular due to a large network of agencies with tangible shopfronts that are not included in the takeover agreement signed with Fosun as the Thomas Cook brand is being relaunched only online following the model of an OTA.

As a note: the hotel portfolio, which is Thomas Cook’s most profitable activity together with its airline business, has 201 properties worldwide, 74.8% of which are in Europe.

 

Airline subsidiaries, such as Condor and Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia, also survived the crisis, particularly through the intermediary of emergency government loans and takeovers by other companies. The Danish charter airline headquartered in Copenhagen will be rebaptized SunClass Airlines after being jointly taken over by three investors: Strawberry Group, Altor and TDR Capital. The Thomas Cook agencies in the United Kingdom have been taken over by the family group Hays Travel, which hired back 400 of the tour operator’s former employees. As far as Thomas Cook France is concerned, the French subsidiary that was placed in receivership on October 1, received twenty partial takeover offers for its assets. These offers were set to be examined November 5 at a hearing with the Commercial Court in Nanterre, but the date was postponed to November 19.

Fosun avait précédemment racheté le groupe français du Club Med en 2015 pour 939 millions d'euros à

Fosun previously took over the French group Club Med in 2015 for 939 million euros in the longest takeover bid in the history of the Paris Stock Exchange.  At the time, Global Resorts, in the person of financier Bonomi, explained in a company statement that:

Having carefully analysed the public offer for shares in Club Med SA, and, in particular the company's valorisation level, Global Resorts SAS has decided not to increase its bid, and consequentially intends to withdraw its offer.

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