In the news ... Thomas Cook

Almost 50 per cent of holiday group Thomas Cook is reportedly up for sale.

Thomas Cook: shares for sale
Thomas Cook: shares for sale

The Sunday Times reported a 44 per cent stake, previously held by bankrupt German firm Arcandor, will be placed on the open market by Arcandor's creditor banks. Royal Bank of Scotland, Commerzbank and BayernLB were handed the Thomas Cook shares as collateral on a EUR1bn (£870m) loan it gave Arcandor and the banks are thought to be keen to recoup the loan. Thomas Cook shares have underperformed the FTSE All-Share index by 2.5 per cent in recent months, but demand is expected to be strong.

The reaction?

The Times said uncertainty over the future of such a large stake 'has weighed heavily on Thomas Cook shares'. Reports in August suggested that the banks initially planned to sell to German travel firm Rewe or to a private equity buyer, but that placing with institutional investors was now seen as the best option.

Who are the PR players?

Brunswick is Thomas Cook's retained agency for financial PR. Alexis Coles-Barrasso is group director of PR and communications at the firm.

What happens next?

The sale may prove a stabilising move. Institutional investor interest is thought to be strong and a sale will lift the uncertainty around the ownership of the firm without a takeover or merger. The FT reports Arcandor's chief executive Karl-Gerhard Eick will relinquish the chairmanship of the tour operator, but the paper said insiders warned against a 'revolution in board composition or strategy'. Last month the firm lost £49.5m in the nine months to June owing to swine flue and its My Travel merger.

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