Peterborough's Thomas Cook confirms takeover talks with Fosun

Thomas Cook has confirmed preliminary sale talks.
Thomas Cook has confirmed preliminary sale talks.
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Staff at Peterborough-based Thomas Cook are facing more uncertainty after the company confirmed it is in sale talks.

The holiday giant, which employs about 1,000 people at its offices in Westpoint, Lynch Wood, has confirmed discussions are underway with Chinese conglomerate Fosun International over the potential sale of its tour operator business.

But struggling Thomas Cook, which is currently embroiled in a tough battle to return to profitability, said there was no guarantee the talks would lead to a formal offer that could lead to the break up of the 178-year-old company.

However, it is another blow for its staff coming just weeks after it announced plans to axe 100 jobs at its Peterborough offices as it blamed Brexit for a slide in bookings and a loss of £1.46 billion for the half year.

However, a company spokesman said: "It's business as usual for all of our customers and staff and we're looking forward to a great summer season."

It was first reported last month that Fosun, which is Thomas Cook's largest shareholder and owner of the Club Med brand as well as Wolverhampton Wonderers football club, was pondering a deal with Thomas Cook.

In an announcement today, the company stated: "Thomas Cook confirms that it is in discussions with Fosun following receipt of a preliminary approach.

"there can be no certainty that this approach will result in a formal offer.

"However, the Board will consider any potential offer alongside the other strategic options that it has, with the aim of maximising value for all its stakeholders."

Shares in Thomas Cook rose by 22 per cent following the announcement.

Thomas Cook has been beset by difficulties as it tackles a challenging market place.

It issued two profits warnings last year, put its airline business up for sale and announced the closure of 21 stores, and recently warned it may have breached its own borrowing limits.

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 he 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.

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