Thomas Cook is unlikely to complete the sale of its business in India until the middle of the year despite launching a formal sale a fortnight ago.
The UK-based Thomas Cook group announced it was seeking offers for its 77% stake in Thomas Cook India as it seeks to cut its debt following a string of poor financial results last year.
Thomas Cook sold the Indian business to investors in Dubai in 2006, but bought back an enlarged stake in 2008 as it embarked on a string of acquisitions. The remaining shares in Thomas Cook India are publically listed.
Thomas Cook India managing director Madhavan Menon said he expects the sale to be completed by mid-2012.
He told the Economic Times of India: “The stake sale is a detailed process. It will be conducted in two stages and is yet to begin.” He said there was no preferred buyer, but added that he expects the business to retain the Thomas Cook name.
Cox & Kings, the India-based business listed on the Mumbai stock market, ruled itself out of contention for Thomas Cook India. The company said it was focused on the integration of UK group Holidaybreak following its £312 million purchase of the company last year.
The withdrawal of Cox & Kings leaves UK foreign exchange group Travelex as the frontrunner to buy Thomas Cook India, in competition with private equity groups.
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