Chinese conglomerate Fosun International said it has taken a 5% stake in Thomas Cook Group, deepening its foray into Europe's tourism sector after buying French holiday maker Club Med last month.
Fosun paid £91.8 million for the stake and will seek to double its holding in Thomas Cook to 10%, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
The two businesses will explore “collaborative opportunities” between Thomas Cook and other travel and leisure businesses in Fosun's investment portfolio.
This includes a closer co-operation with Club Med, further enhancing the existing strong relationship between the two organisations in France and extending it to other key European markets, Cook said.
The deal also allows Cook access to the fast-growing Chinese tourism market in partnership with a company with “significant experience” in Chinese leisure and tourism.
Thomas Cook chairman Frank Meysman, said: "Building on our significant progress to date, we are delighted to announce our partnership with Fosun, which represents a major milestone in Thomas Cook's 174-year history designed to bring significant benefits to Thomas Cook and its shareholders.
“Fosun's strong track record of value creation and focus on international tourism makes it the ideal partner to strengthen our brands and products."
Chief executive Peter Fankhauser said: "Our partnership with Fosun is aimed at accelerating our profitable growth strategy by allowing us to further develop our differentiated product in our core destination markets, to collaborate with Fosun's other portfolio businesses particularly in France, and to access the world's largest and fastest-growing tourism markets with an experienced local partner.
“We are looking forward to working closely with Fosun's team to execute the commercial opportunities we are developing."
Fosun executive director and president Wang Qunbin said: "Our strategic partnership with Thomas Cook is another strong example of Fosun's status as a trusted and experienced partner for leading international tourism businesses.
“Thomas Cook's strong brand heritage and its leading position in the European travel market, together with Fosun's extensive expertise and resources, will capitalise on the increasing demand for international leisure travel.
“The investment in Thomas Cook complements our other recent investments in the sector, providing opportunities for further value creation."
Qian Jiannong, President of Fosun's tourism and commercial group, added: "This partnership further demonstrates Fosun's commitment to the tourism sector and represents another significant milestone following our investment in Club Med.
“We are excited about the prospect of developing our partnership with Thomas Cook."
China is the world's largest outbound market with a total expenditure of $129 billion in 2013.
In the first three quarters of 2014, total outbound expenditure grew by 17%.
The total number of trips abroad from China was estimated to be 107 million in 2014, representing year-on-year growth of 20%.
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