Britain’s Thomas Cook scrambles for $250m to avert collapse

Lenders are demanding another £200 million in underwritten funds to support Thomas Cook in its winter trading period. (Reuters)
Updated 20 September 2019

Britain’s Thomas Cook scrambles for $250m to avert collapse

  • Thomas Cook employs 21,000 people across 16 countries
  • Lenders are demanding another £200 million in underwritten funds to support Thomas Cook in its winter trading period

LONDON: Britain’s Thomas Cook scrambled on Friday to find an extra $251 million (£200 million) to satisfy its lenders and secure the survival of the world’s oldest holiday company.
Last month Thomas Cook, the pioneer of the package tour, agreed key terms of a £900 million recapitalization plan with Chinese shareholder Fosun and its banks.
Thomas Cook, which employs 21,000 people across 16 countries, warned on Friday that this could mean shareholders losing all of their investment.
“The recapitalization is expected to result in existing shareholders’ interests being significantly diluted, with significant risk of no recovery,” Thomas Cook said.
Lenders are demanding another £200 million in underwritten funds to support Thomas Cook in its winter trading period, when its cash is usually at a low ebb.
“Discussions to agree final terms on the recapitalization and reorganization of the company are continuing between the company and a range of stakeholders,” Thomas Cook said.
“These discussions include a recent request for a seasonal standby facility of £200 million, on top of the previously announced 900 million pounds injection of new capital.”
Thomas Cook, which has around 600,000 customers on holiday in Europe, has struggled with competition in popular destinations, high debt levels and an unusually hot summer in 2018 which reduced last-minute bookings.
A source close to the discussions said on Thursday that Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) had hit Thomas Cook with a last-minute demand for the extra funding, adding that the situation “was becoming more critical.”
A spokesman for RBS said the bank did not “recognize this characterization of events” and was working with all parties to “try and find a resolution to the funding and liquidity shortfall at Thomas Cook.”
Under the original terms of the plan, Fosun — whose Chinese parent owns all-inclusive holiday firm Club Med — would contribute £450 million ($552 million) of new money in return for at least 75 percent of the tour operator business and 25 percent of the group’s airline.
Thomas Cook’s lending banks and bondholders were to stump up a further £450 million and convert their existing debt to equity, giving them in total about 75 percent of the airline and up to 25 percent in the tour operator business, the group said.
Thomas Cook said on Friday it would provide further updates “in due course.”


SABIC eyes methanol plant in Russia’s far east

Updated 8 min 36 sec ago

SABIC eyes methanol plant in Russia’s far east

  • SABIC has signed an initial agreement with Russian interests to build and operate a methanol plant in the country’s far east
  • The installed capacity of the proposed plant in the Amur Region is expected to be up to two-million tons of methanol

LONDON: SABIC has signed an initial agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and ESN Group, to build and operate a methanol plant in the country’s far east.
The deal was struck on the sidelines of the Russian President’s visit to the Kingdom.
The installed capacity of the proposed plant in the Amur Region is expected to be up to two-million tons of methanol.
“This is an important milestone in our global growth strategy, which is formulated around competitive feedstock and capacity to innovate and plan strategically,” said Yousef Al-Benyan, SABIC Vice Chairman and CEO.
“We plan to maintain our strategic partnership with the Russian market by continuing to focus on meeting customer needs, increasing our key customer base, and growing our commercial operation.”
Riyadh-headquartered SABIC is the region’s biggest petrochemical company with operations worldwide. It has been rapidly expanding its global footprint over the last year as it pushes into new markets and higher value products.