Thomas Cook's chances of escaping its current financial mess still rest in the hands of Fosun and its creditors. While Wednesday's announcement is good news for travelers and the company's employees, there are still a number of hurdles to clear.
Thomas Cook has moved a step closer to securing its future after reaching a “substantial agreement” over a proposed rescue deal with shareholder Fosun Tourism Group and its creditors.
The terms of the deal will see Fosun invest $549 million (£450 million), acquiring at least 75 percent of the equity of the tour operator — subject to securing antitrust approvals — and 25 percent of the group’s airline.
Thomas Cook’s lending banks and noteholders will contribute a further $549 million (£450 million), taking the remaining 75 percent of the airline and 25 percent of the tour operator.
While the update indicates the parties have made progress, there are still some hurdles.
“The execution of the transaction remains subject to a legally binding agreement being reached amongst the parties to the recapitalization plan and, where appropriate, the group’s other key stakeholders,” Thomas Cook said in a stock market statement on Wednesday.
Fosun and the financial institutions participating in the rescue have yet to agree on exactly how the tour operator and airline will be split as well as any financing during the transaction. The deal will also be subject to regulatory and antitrust approvals.
The company may also delist from the stock exchange.
Earlier this month Fosun Tourism CEO Qian Jiannong said the prospective deal presented “much difficult.”
“Various sides have got their own priorities. We are intensively listening and negotiating with various parties,” he said, according to Nikkei Asian Review.
What About the Rival Bidder?
There was no mention in the update about the 8 percent shareholding built up by Turkish entrepreneur Neset Kockar, who expressed his desire to play a part in the rescue.
The silence indicates there is no serious prospect of a bidding war, and in any case, given the company’s significant debts, mounting a full takeover wouldn’t just mean buying up shares. It would mean stumping up much more to clear its debt.
Kockar’s last share purchase came almost a month ago. Skift asked a PR representative for comment but has yet to hear back.
Shares in Thomas Cook had risen after Kockar’s interest emerged, but Wednesday it warned that the prospect of shareholders seeing any return on their investments remains slim, prompting a steep decline.
“Thomas Cook’s share price is losing altitude once more because current shareholders are going to be left with very, very little after Fosun and the current debt holders have injected fresh capital,” said Russ Mould, investment director at stockbroker AJ Bell.
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Photo credit: Thomas Cook airlines aircraft seats. The group is trying to conclude a rescue plan. Thomas Cook