Thomas Cook receives takeover approach from Chinese shareholder

Troubled travel firm Thomas Cook has said it has received a takeover approach for its tour business from China’s Fosun. Fosun is already Thomas Cook’s largest shareholder, and also owns the Club Med holiday business.

Thomas Cook said it was in talks with Fosun, but added there could be “no certainty that this approach will result in a formal offer”.

The firm’s shares fell sharply in May on fears over its financial strength.

The travel firm – which has annual sales of £9bn, 19 million customers a year, and 22,000 staff operating in 16 countries – is already trying to sell its airline.

Last month, shares in Thomas Cook sank 30% in one day after analysts at Citigroup said the travel firm’s shares were ‘worthless’.

Its comments came a day after Thomas Cook issued its third profit warning in less than a year and reported a £1.5bn half-year loss.

Thomas Cook has closed 21 of its stores, its currency arm Thomas Cook Money is under review and the company has said more ‘cost efficiencies’ are planned.

However, the company has sought to reassure holidaymakers, telling customers last month that it was ‘business as usual’.

At the time, Thomas Cook said: “As an ATOL-protected business, our customers can have complete confidence in booking their holiday with us.”

Protection under the ATOL, or Air Travel Organiser’s Licence, scheme means UK travellers on an air package holiday do not lose their money or become stranded abroad if a holiday firm collapses.

It also covers many charter flights and means that, if the operator collapses while people are away, they can finish their holiday and be flown home at no extra cost.