A joint venture is being established to develop domestic, inbound and outbound tourism activities for the Chinese market under Thomas Cook brands.
The unit will be 51% owned by Chinese conglomerate Fosun – a shareholder in Cook and owner of Club Med – and 49% by Thomas Cook.
Cook is contributing half of a £1.56 million combined cash contribution with Fosun to support the initial start-up phase.
The Shanghai-based joint venture is expected to be operational in the autumn, subject to obtaining the relevant regulatory approvals and licenses.
Reto Wilhelm, managing director of Cook’s eastern and western European businesses and a former head of Kuoni’s Asia and China division, will run the new venture as general manager.
Fosun took a 5% stake in Thomas Cook for almost £92 million in March.
Thomas Cook chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, said: “Today marks a significant milestone in our strategic partnership with Fosun.
“We are excited at the prospects of entering the largest and fastest-growing tourism market in the world with such an experienced partner.”
Qian Jiannong, president of Fosun’s tourism and commercial group, said: “We are delighted to work with Thomas Cook, the world’s best known name in travel, to develop a leading travel business servingthe growing number of Chinese travellers.
“Today, there is a lack of innovation and differentiation in the travel product offerings for Chinese tourists in China and abroad, presenting an excellent opportunity for our new joint venture to gain a competitive advantage.”
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