Published on Friday, March 7, 2008

Thomas Cook expands in Middle East and India

Thomas Cook Group is taking a majority stake in businesses run under its name in India, Egypt and 15 Middle East countries.

The company is paying up to 249 million euros to Dubai Financial Group for the businesses.

Thomas Cook India is the second largest travel company in the country with 2,500 staff with a retail network of 180 outlets across 40 cities. It claims to be the biggest foreign exchange business in India.

The branded business in Egypt gives “strong prospects” to grow in the region, particularly through using the Egyptian business's inbound travel capabilities and strengthening its outbound travel operations.

The termination of the brand licensing agreement in the 15 countries across the Middle East allows Thomas Cook to regain control of the 'Thomas Cook' name it originally licensed to the Dubai company.

Thomas Cook's travel and financial services activities in Egypt date back to 1869. Today, the branch network includes 22 Egyptian branches. The main business segments are corporate, inbound and outbound travel as well as financial services.

Group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa said: “The acquisition of TCIL allows Thomas Cook to capitalise on the anticipated strong growth and development of the Indian economy, which we expect to be mirrored by even stronger growth in travel.

“I have every confidence that by bringing the TCIL business under our ownership there will be significant opportunities for the business to outperform the market in both the travel and foreign exchange sectors.”

He added: “I am delighted we have secured such a significant acquisition in this fast growing market.

“Thomas Cook has a long and enviable history in India dating back to the 1880's and the brand name has become one of the country's best known.

“Adding what is one of India's largest travel and financial services businesses to our portfolio will allow us to take full advantage of the growth prospects that this market offers and fully supports our strategy of entering the fast developing emerging markets and expanding our financial services businesses.”
by Phil Davies

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