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Investors grab Arcandor stake in Thomas Cook

CREDITOR banks of insolvent German retailer Arcandor yesterday completed the placing of a 43.9 per cent stake in travel firm Thomas Cook in one of the biggest share placings in Britain in recent years.<br /><br />The placing removes uncertainty about future ownership of the stake and lifted the company&rsquo;s share price. It was a further sign of enthusiasm returning to the stock market.<br /><br />The consortium of banks, which included BayernLB, Royal Bank of Scotland and Commerzbank, placed 376,625,636 ordinary shares in Thomas Cook at 240p per share, a small discount to Wednesday&rsquo;s closing price of 245p.<br /><br />The placing of the stake, which the banks had held as collateral against a loan taken out by Arcandor, raised proceeds of about &pound;904m ($1.50bn).<br /><br />Arcandor, whose business includes the Karstadt department stores in Germany, filed for insolvency in June after its request for state help failed. Dealers said the placing was seven or eight times covered.<br /><br />Analysts say the removal of Arcandor from Thomas Cook&rsquo;s share register will help the firm progress with its expansion plans, which include moving into new regions such as Russia and China.