A bid fronted by former Thomas Cook head of scheduled business Terry Fisher to take a two thirds stake in the company has been rejected.
Although a report in the Financial Times claimed the £400 million bid could be resurrected, one of its backers, Travel Weekly Group chairman Clive Jacobs, has confirmed it was explored but not progressed with.
In a statement released this morning he said: “Like many people, I was saddened to learn of Thomas Cook’s situation before Christmas and when I was approached with an opportunity to explore ways of injecting cash into the business to see it return to its former position of strength, I agreed to be involved.
“Those discussions were explored in full but did not progress any further which I think is unfortunate for Thomas Cook, but I sincerely hope that the company is successful in its current activities to refocus the business.
“I firmly believe that a thriving Thomas Cook is crucial for the UK travel industry and when you are in a position to help, you want to because of the importance of a brand like that.”
The Financial Times claimed to have spoken to three people with knowledge of the proposed deal that would have injected £400 million into the ailing tour operator and retailer.
It claimed Cook chairman Frank Meysman has met Fisher and a second potential backer, said to be Travel Weekly Group chairman Clive Jacobs, about the deal.
The proposal was said to have gained backing from existing shareholders including Invesco, Cook’s second largest shareholder, which owns 10.44%.
The Financial Times reported that Meysman was told the group had “commitments from existing shareholders and outside investors for a £400m pot to support a rights issue and an injection of working capital into the business”.
Fisher left Thomas Cook in 2010 having run its scheduled business after he sold Preston-based Gold Medal to the travel giant in 2008.
The Financial Times said, despite expectations that Cook was poised to announce a new chief executive this month, there were no imminent plans to do so.
It made the unsubstantiated claim that Fisher and Jacobs could become joint chief executives.
Last November Thomas Cook was forced to turn to its lenders for an emergency £100 million extension to its lending facilities after it suspended the announcement of its annual results.
It has since embarked on a wide-ranging review of its activities including the sale of its Indian business and the proposed closure of around 200 high street stores prompting a redundancy consultation which is approaching a conclusion.
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