The chairman of Thomas Cook has rejected a proposal by a group led by two leisure industry veterans and backed by some shareholders of the travel operator to inject £400m into the company.
Frank Meysman dismissed the plan after representatives of the group met the Thomas Cook chairman two weeks ago, according to one person with knowledge of the talks.
The group told Mr Meysman in a two-hour meeting that it had support from existing shareholders and outside investors for a £400m pot to support a rights issue and an injection of working capital into the business.
The plan had the support of Invesco, its second-largest shareholder with 10.44 per cent, and several other shareholders, two people familiar with the talks said. The group, including Invesco, is no longer working on the plan, the people said.
A third person with knowledge of the talks said the Thomas Cook board had been informed of the approach. And while the company viewed the plan as not fully developed, it might explore it further, the person added.
The group of investors includes travel industry veteran Terry Fisher, formerly of Airtours who sold tour operator Gold Medal to Thomas Cook in 2008 and ran its scheduled business before resigning in 2010.
Other backers include Clive Jacobs, who founded leisure car rental business Holiday Autos and is owner and chairman of Travel Weekly Group.
The plan envisages the individuals providing some of the fundraising. With its market value at £199m, those backing the £400m fundraising would be in line to own about two-thirds of the company.
Thomas Cook has taken on financial adviser John Short, who worked on the restructuring of MyTravel in 2004.
The travel group is continuing its search for a chief executive, but the company is not expected to make an announcement soon. Under the shareholder backed proposal, Mr Fisher and Mr Jacobs would be co-CEOs.
Bid talk and expressions of interest for parts of the business, as well as an analyst’s upbeat comment, triggered sporadic jumps in the company’s share price in recent weeks.
Last month its interim chief executive Sam Weihagen said the travel operator should focus on fewer holiday destinations if the high street tour operator was to turn round its struggling UK business.
The comments came as the company announced it would put its Indian business up for sale – in which the London-listed business has a 77.1 per cent stake – as it tries to reduce its net debt of about £900m through disposals. At the same time, it announced a first-quarter loss of £91m, double the £37m loss a year earlier.
During January, the share price hovered around 15p. On Thursday it closed at 22.75p, down 0.5p.
All parties declined to comment.
Additional reporting by Kate Burgess
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