Fosun snags Thomas Cook brand

Casa Cook El Gouna
Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser former The Casa Cook El Gouna opened earlier this month. Photo credit: Thomas Cook Group

China-based international conglomerate Fosun has acquired the Thomas Cook brand and its IP assets for £11 million, with the brand expected to live on online.

Fosun had been a shareholder in the company, which was broken up after announcing its liquidation in September.

The company told the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, “With a history of 178 years, the Thomas Cook brand is the frontrunner of establishing [the] tourism industry and one of the most well-known tourism brands around the world.

“The acquisition of Thomas Cook as a global brand would enable the group to expand the tour operator business riding on the robust growth momentum of Chinese outbound tourism, leveraging the extensive brand awareness and profound influence of Thomas Cook.

“The introduction of Casa Cook, Cook’s Club, the resort/hotel brands under the Thomas Cook brand would further enrich the offering of accommodation[s] choices for tourism destinations business by the group, diversify its resort and hotel operations and improve the Foliday [aka Fosun Tourism Group] ecosystem in providing customers with quality holiday experience[s] across the globe.”

The Foliday platform focused on families and was part of what the group referred to as its “happiness ecosystem,” which also included Club Med and brewer Tsingtao and French fashion house Lanvin.

Not Looking for More TCG Parts

Peter Fankhauser
Peter Fankhauser
Photo credit: Thomas Cook

Fosun Tourism Group said other than the IP assets, it had no plans to acquire any other part of Thomas Cook Group. It had been the majority shareholder in Thomas Cook Group, planning to put in £450 million of new money and take “at least 75 percent of the equity of the group-tour operator and 25 percent of the group airline as part of the failed £900 million recapitalization.

Joachim Schmitt, CEO of Orascom Hotels Management, which has sites under both the Cook's Club and Casa Cook brands, told our IHIF newsletter he had met with Fosun and that it was "keen to drive expansion of the brand in Europe and China and had retained the team that developed the concept.” He added Fosun currently was talking to Casa Cook owners "to assess whether they are willing to commit to the brand.”

Former Thomas Cook Group rival TUI has added 135 former Thomas Cook hotels to its offering for bookings next year, with 19 in Turkey, 16 in Greece, six in the Balearic Islands, 22 in the Canary Islands and 13 in Mexico. TUI has added an extra two million seats on flights to those destinations. 

TCG’s Ving Group Also Acquired

Elsewhere at Thomas Cook, the company’s Nordic business, the Ving Group, has been acquired for by a group of investors formed of Strawberry Group, Altor Funds and TDR Capital for an undisclosed amount. Strawberry Group and Altor each will hold 40 percent with TDR taking the remaining 20 percent, with plans for a Skr6bn ($618 million) restructuring package in liquid funds and guarantees.

The business includes brands such as Globetrotter, Spies and Thomas Cook’s Scandinavian airline, which will be renamed Sunclass Airlines.

Strawberry Group also owns the Nordic Choice hotel company. Founder Petter A. Stordalen said, “Today is a big day for a man who loves the travel industry. The Nordic business has created a portfolio of strong Nordic brands, and is today the crown jewel among Nordic tour operators. That is why I am incredibly proud that, together with two solid partners, we have reached a solution that allows us to secure the future of these companies.

“With a strong and long-term Nordic ownership, the Ving Group now has the conditions needed to do what they are best at: creating unique experiences for their guests and giving their customers the best week of the year.”

“The new owners’ extensive industry experience and financial strength will give us the long-term stability we need as well as completely new opportunities to develop our customer offering in the future,” said Ving Group CEO Magnus Wikner.

Loan to Aid TCG’s Condor Airline

At Condor, the German-based Thomas Cook Group airline, the European Commission approved the six-month bridging loan that was granted by the German Federal government and the Hessian state government, having decided that it was permissible as state aid. The loan will support the airline through the traditionally weaker winter booking period

Ralf Teckentrup CEO of Condor Flugdienst, said, “A healthy business like Condor is also in the interest of a properly operating market, because we are not only a significant competitor in the tourism sector, but also important for the competition in the German and European aviation industry.”

The move by the German government was in contrast to that in the U.K., where Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser told a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee inquiry that the company only had one meeting with a government minister in the build-up to the collapse, adding that, if the government had provided GBP200 million to secure the bailout from Fosun Tourism Group, then the tour company would have been saved.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary at the TSSA, the trade union for the transport and travel trade industries in the U.K., responded: “I’m delighted that it looks like the iconic Thomas Cook brand has been saved. However, let’s not overlook the fact the entire business could still have been a going concern if it hadn't been allowed go to the wall by the ineptitude of the Tory government and its Business Secretary, Andrea Leadsom.

“Frankly, Fosun must think that Christmas has come early. They are now the proprietors of a longstanding and much-loved high street brand name that they have got for a paltry £11 million. Remember, this comes after they were prepared to plough in £450 million to keep the company afloat—only for the Tories’ dead hand to consciously kill that bid.”