Lloyds gets rid of half its holding in Thomas Cook

Kasmira Jefford
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THOMAS COOK’S largest stakeholder has ditched almost half of its shares, a day after the crisis-hit tour operator asked its bank lenders to come to its rescue for the second time in five weeks.

Lloyds Banking Group sold around £4m worth of shares, shrinking its stake in the company from 8.96 to 4.67 per cent, Thomas Cook was forced to disclose under London Stock Exchange rules yesterday.

Thomas Cook, which has issued three profit warnings in the past 18 months, saw its share price nosedive on Tuesday after it announced it was seeking a further £100m loan from its lenders, which include Lloyds.

The syndicate of 17 lenders yesterday appointed Ernst & Young to advise them in what could lead to a possible restructuring of the firm rather than just a refinancing.

Analysts have question the future of the debt-ridden operator, which has been hit hard by tough trading conditions in the UK and Middle East and weaker consumer spending.

The firm was also shaken by the shock departure of its chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa in August.

David Cameron yesterday asked the department for business to be kept informed on the firm.

Shares recovered slightly yesterday, closing up nine per cent at 11.12p.