Published on Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Billionaire investor snaps up Thomas Cook's Nordic brands

Norwegian billionaire Petter Stordalen has bought Thomas Cook Northern Europe, which includes its businesses in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finalnd.

It includes the brands Ving, Globetrotter, Spies, Tjareborg, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia and a number of hotel brands.

Stordalen, above, has bought the Nordic business with the backing of private equity firms Altor and TDR Capital.

He told a press conference that the trio of investors had secured just over $617 million for the acquisition.

"Competition was rock hard to get in here, but we were the only group to work on a reconstruction that would secure one solution for all," he said.

All the Nordic brands have continued to operate following the collapse of their UK-based parent Thomas Cook last month as they are all separate legal entities.

Stordalen's Strawberry group and Altor will each take a 40% stake in the business, with TDR Capital buying the remaining 20%.

"It has been a very complex affair and has happened very fast," said Ving Group CEO Magnus Wikner.

"For us it was incredibly important to find an owner that has the strategic competence and financial strength to become a good, long-term owner for us."

In response to the news that Thomas Cook's Nordic tour operations and airline had been snapped up, the union which represented its UK cabin crew, Unite, once again criticised the UK government for not rescuing the UK airline.

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: "This is obviously good news for the workers employed by this airline, but it is impossible not to draw comparisons with the situation in the UK.

"When Thomas Cook collapsed national governments in Scandinavia created the conditions to protect their airline allowing it to keep flying, the UK government was not prepared to take similar measures.

"Instead a highly profitable airline was allowed to go to the wall and 4,000 dedicated members of staff lost their jobs.

"The government's failure to support the Thomas Cook's UK airline has cost the UK taxpayers millions in the cost of repatriations of holidaymakers, as well as redundancy and benefits payments to the workers who needlessly lost their jobs.

"It is to be hoped that the government has learnt its lessons from this sorry affair and in future airlines that have financial difficulties are provided with the necessary assistance to continue to fly as restructuring occurs or a new buyer is found.

"As a first step it is absolutely imperative that the recommendations arising from the Airline Insolvency Review become law at the earliest possible opportunity."

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