Thomas Cook brand could survive crisis: Major Chinese investor Fosun that led rescue attempt among potential buyers for the name
Sources close to the liquidation process said that there had been interest from potential buyers in the Thomas Cook name, despite the damage it has suffered over the last week.
One of those could be Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate which was set to become the firm’s majority owner through its failed rescue deal.
One industry source told the Mail that Fosun, which owns Premier League football club Wolverhampton Wanderers, may still be interested in picking up the brand for a rock bottom price.
Heyday: A Thomas Cook advert featuring its once-famous tag line. Sources close to the liquidation process said that there had been interest from potential buyers in the name
The source added: ‘Despite the trouble over the past week, and the huge distress that has caused customers, there’s a huge amount of good sentiment and nostalgia attached to the brand.’
Meanwhile, major players in the airline sector are already sniffing around Thomas Cook’s UK-based aeroplanes and its landing slots in airports.
The holiday firm tumbled into liquidation on Monday, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded around the world, after it failed to hammer out a rescue deal with its lenders.
The company did not have enough money to keep trading, meaning that rather than being put into administration, its British business was forced to cease operations immediately.
Cabin crew touched down in holiday resorts to be told they had lost their jobs, and thousands more customers saw their trips abroad cancelled.
Alix Partners, the insolvency firm which has been appointed to act as liquidator in place of the Government’s Official Receiver, is now attempting to wind up the company and sell its assets to return money to creditors.
A spokesman for Alix Partners declined to comment on any offers, but said: ‘The absolute priority at this early stage is assisting customers through the Civil Aviation Authority’s repatriation efforts and the many employees of Thomas Cook.’
In the UK alone, the company owns 686 valuable airport slots – pre-assigned take-off and landing spots – across Manchester, Gatwick and Birmingham.
Hungry rival airlines will now be looking to snap these up to expand their footprint.
An industry source said the ‘great and the good of the aviation industry’ were already beginning to table offers for assets including the planes and airport slots.
Thomas Cook’s UK arm owns four planes and leases several more, and it is possible that the whole of the UK airline could be sold to a competitor.
But the insolvency experts working to sell the assets must first separate legitimate offers from those which have little chance of progressing.
One source with knowledge of the matter said: ‘A number of fake offers have already been submitted. One claimed to be from a Chinese billionaire – a quick internet search showed it was actually some guy writing from a council estate in Harlow.’
Thomas Cook’s foreign operations, which run as separate business units and are still trading, will now reopen talks with various suitors.
Alix Partners is likely to assist in these deals, to ensure Thomas Cook creditors get as much money back as possible.
Condor, Thomas Cook’s German airline, has secured financial support from the German government, which will give the airline room to breathe after being cut off from its ruined parent company.
Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic and Indigo Partners had previously expressed interest in parts of Thomas Cook’s airline, while private equity firm Triton had tabled a bid for its Nordic operations.