Travel giant Thomas Cook fails to find private funds to avert collapse

Thomas Cook needs £200 million ($250 million) — in addition to the £900-million rescue deal secured last month — or else face administration. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2019

Travel giant Thomas Cook fails to find private funds to avert collapse

  • Chinese peer Fosun, which was already the biggest shareholder in Thomas Cook, agreed last month to inject £450 million into the business

LONDON: Iconic British travel firm Thomas Cook has failed to find further private investment to stave off collapse and is now relying on an unlikely government bailout, a source close the matter said on Saturday.
The operator said Friday that it needed £200 million ($250 million) — in addition to the £900-million rescue deal secured last month — or else face administration, which could potentially trigger Britain’s largest repatriation since World War II.
A source close to the negotiations said that the company had failed to find the £200 million from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.
But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator’s longer-term viability, the Times reported on Saturday, leaving it on the brink of collapse and stranding up to 150,000 British holiday makers abroad.
“We will know by tomorrow if agreement is reached,” the source said.
Two years ago, the collapse of Monarch Airlines prompted the British government to take emergency action to return 110,000 stranded passengers, costing taxpayers some £60 million on hiring planes.
The government at the time described it as Britain’s “biggest-ever peacetime repatriation.”
Thousands of workers could also lose their jobs, with the 178-year-old company employing about 22,000 staff worldwide, including 9,000 in Britain.
Chinese peer Fosun, which was already the biggest shareholder in Thomas Cook, agreed last month to inject £450 million into the business.
In return, the Hong Kong-listed conglomerate acquired a 75-percent stake in Thomas Cook’s tour operating division and 25-percent of its airline unit.
Creditors and banks agreed to inject another £450 million under the recapitalization plan announced in August, converting their debt in exchange for a 75-percent stake in the airline and 25 percent of the tour operating unit.
Thomas Cook in May revealed that first-half losses widened on a major write-down, caused in part by Brexit uncertainty that delayed summer holiday bookings. The group, which has around 600 stores across the UK, has also come under pressure from fierce online competition.


Natixis opens investment banking office in Saudi Arabia

Updated 31 May 2020

Natixis opens investment banking office in Saudi Arabia

  • Western financial institutions have been seeking opportunities in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: French investment bank Natixis has opened a corporate and investment banking office in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh and appointed former JPMorgan banker Reema Al-Asmari as its chief executive officer, the bank said on Sunday.
Western financial institutions have been seeking opportunities in Saudi Arabia since the government unveiled plans to privatize state assets and introduced reforms to attract foreign capital under its Vision 2030 program to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil.
“By establishing a local presence, Natixis aims to deepen its relationships with its existing clients, including corporates, sovereign wealth funds and financial institutions, and to serve new clients, including family offices,” Natixis said in a statement.
The bank’s office, located in Al Faisaliah Tower, will offer “tailor-made capital markets products and investment banking services.”
Al-Asmari, who joined Natixis last August as an adviser to the bank’s Dubai branch, will continue to report to Simon Eedle, Natixis Corporate & Investment Banking’s regional head for the Middle East.
Eedle said in a statement that the bank’s commitment to the Middle East dated back more than 20 years and he believed its areas of expertise were closely aligned with the needs of clients in the region. “This is very much the case for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, notably in the context of Vision 2030,” he said, adding it was a “pivotal time” for the kingdom.