Thomas Cook in £400m fundraising plan

TRAVEL group Thomas Cook is this morning expected to unveil plans to raise around £400m through a share placing and rights issue as the company’s turnaround gathers pace.

The business, which recorded an enormous £590m loss during the 2010/11 financial year, has focused on cutting jobs and closing retail outlets to deal with a massive £1.56bn debt pile.

The FTSE 250 company is also expected to announce new long-term banking facilities according to Sky News, who first reported the story.

Shareholders are unlikely to complain about today’s much-trailed placing given the company – written off by the markets last year as on the brink of collapse – has seen an astonishing turnaround following last July’s appointment of chief executive Harriet Green.

Green’s decisive action has seen her close around 200 high street stores, sack more than 2,000 staff and off-load non-core divisions such as the company’s North American business.

Investors have been delighted by her plan and over the last six months shares in the business have gained 587 per cent, rising from just 21p to yesterday’s closing price of 144.7p.

Green has herself benefited financially from the share price rise, having bought 500,000 shares for 23p each last November in a show of confidence.

The 172-year old group had been in the doldrums after failing to keep up with changing consumer habits. As part of its turnaround plan the company wants half of all sales made online.