Arcandor's banks push for the sale of stake in UK travel group Thomas Cook

City A.M. Reporter
THE leading banks of insolvent German retailer Arcandor are pushing for a sale of the group&rsquo;s stake in travel operator Thomas Cook, of which they hold 43.9 per cent as collateral.<br /><br />Arcandor filed for insolvency in June after its request for state help failed.<br /><br />Chief executive Karl-Gerhard Eick has been keen to find ways to prevent the group from being broken up. But the departure earlier this month of Horst Piepenburg, who had been hired as a restructuring specialist by Arcandor, sparked speculation as to whether that was still feasible.<br /><br />Arcandor&rsquo;s insolvency administrator has appointed two banks to assess separate restructuring solutions for department store unit Karstadt and its mail-order business Primondo. These would not necessarily imply a break-up of the group.<br /><br />But now the company&rsquo;s banks are making their own plans.<br /><br />&ldquo;It is currently envisaged by the mandated lead arrangers (MLAs) that the most likely outcome would involve a market placing (Thomas Cook), off market sales or some combination of the two,&rdquo; Royal Bank of Scotland, Commerzbank and BayernLB said in a statement released yesterday. &ldquo;No course of action has been determined at this stage.&rdquo;<br /><br />A spokesman for the administrator said no final decision had been made yet on the issue, and added: &ldquo;We will continue talks with the banks.&rdquo;