Thomas Cook to sell £200m of its assets

STRICKEN tour operator Thomas Cook will sell off over £200m of assets to shore up its balance sheet, after it last week issued its third profit warning in a year.

A source close to the firm told City A.M. it was considering putting a range of assets on the block, including its stake in NATS, the air-traffic controller; its Indian foreign exchange business; and one of its European offices.

The assets will be sold off over the next six to eighteen months, the source said. Travelex, which is trying to beef up its consumer offering, is understood to have emerged as an early bidder for the forex business.

Thomas Cook put out a profit warning last week, after the political upheaval in North Africa, rising fuel costs and a lack of consumer confidence hurt its profitability.

It reduced its forecasts for full-year profit to £320m compared to previous guidance of £380m, causing its shares to plunge by over 25 per cent.

Some investors are agitating for Thomas Cook to shut a significant number of high street stores and focus resources on the internet. But the firm is unlikely to make a decision on closures before the Competition Commission rules on the merger of its high street travel agents with the Co-operative.