Thomas Cook receives offer for northern European business

Private equity firm Triton Partners make unsolicited bid

The bid comes after a week in which Thomas Cook’s share price fell nearly 40 per cent. Photograph: Paul Hanna/File Photo/Reuters

The bid comes after a week in which Thomas Cook’s share price fell nearly 40 per cent. Photograph: Paul Hanna/File Photo/Reuters

 

Embattled travel group Thomas Cook on Thursday said it received a bid for its northern European business from the private equity firm Triton Partners.

The UK-based company confirmed that Triton had put forward a “highly preliminary and unsolicited indicative offer” for the Thomas Cook airline and tour operator business in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, which accounts for about 17 per cent of the company’s revenues.

The bid comes after a week in which Thomas Cook’s share price fell nearly 40 per cent after it revealed a record £1.5 billion (€1.7 billion) loss for the first half of the year and had its equity valued at zero by analysts from the investment bank Citi.

On Thursday the company was downgraded even further into junk territory by two rating agencies, as they warned about its ability to pay its debt and the risk to the business should it not sell its airline as planned.

Profitable airline

In an announcement to the stock market later in the day, Thomas Cook said it was looking at the offer from Triton alongside the sale of its profitable airline, which it announced in February as part of a company-wide restructuring process.

Thomas Cook, which has suffered under high debts and a fall in demand for traditional package holidays amid Brexit uncertainty, has raced to shore up its balance sheet, including securing an additional £300 million loan facility.

Triton Partners could not be reached for comment.

Thomas Cook added that there was “no certainty” that a deal with Triton Partners would be completed.

Shares in the company rose almost 7 per cent on Thursday, recouping some losses from the morning provoked by the credit rating downgrades by Fitch and S&P Global. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019