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Thomas Cook agrees to Chinese-led rescue


AFP London
British travel company Thomas Cook agreed Wednesday to a 900-million pounds rescue deal that will hand control of its tour operator business to China's Fosun Group.
The recapitalisation, worth the equivalent of 994 million euros or USD 1.1 billion, sent Thomas Cook stock crashing by a fifth as analysts warned that shareholders may see investments wiped out.
The troubled London-based firm outlined the rescue package one month after revealing advanced talks over the issue.
Thomas Cook announced in a statement that Fosun, which was already the biggest shareholder, will inject 450 million pounds into the business.
In return, the Hong Kong-listed conglomerate will acquire a 75-percent stake in Thomas Cook's tour operating division and 25-percent of its airline unit.
Creditors and banks will inject another 450 million pounds under the recapitalisation, converting their debt in exchange for a 75-percent stake in the airline and 25 percent of the tour operating unit.
"Implementation of the proposed recapitalisation will involve a significant new capital investment and reorganisation of the group," the group said.
The transaction will complete in October subject to regulatory approvals. Investors took flight, sending Thomas Cook shares plunging 17.22 percent to just 5.86 pence on the London stock market.
"Shareholders in the troubled travel company may have to accept that their investment could be worthless," said Russ Mould, investment director at online stockbroker AJ Bell.
"An update on its refinancing reveals that Chinese group Fosun and Thomas Cook's lenders are going to get the lion's share of the equity, meaning very little -- if anything -- is left on the table for the other shareholders." Thomas Cook in May revealed that first-half losses widened on a major write-down, caused in part by Brexit uncertainty that delayed summer holiday bookings.
Fosun Group is already an investor in the British firm -- with a stake of around 18 percent -- and owns French luxury holiday resort group Club Med which it bought for more than $1 billion in 2015.

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First Published: Aug 28 2019 | 6:01 PM IST

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