Thomas Cook India acquires Kuoni's travel business in India and Hong Kong for Rs535 cr

Thomas Cook Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, India's leading integrated travel and travel related financial services company, today announced the acquisition of Swiss tourism major Kuoni's travel business in India and Hong Kong in a Rs535-crore deal.

The acquisition, which comes days  after its acquisition of Luxe Asia, a destination management company based in Sri Lanka, has been backed by billionaire investor Prem Watsa's Fairfax Financial Holdings.

Post acquisition Kuponi's travel business in both India and Hong Kong will become a subsidiary of Thomas Cook, but function as independent units, Thomas Cook India said.

"Our acquisition of Kuoni's tour operating and retailing businesses in India and Hong Kong as well as the Indian inbound business reaffirms reaffirms our belief in the India market potential, as also our strategic intent to explore viable geographies, including the larger Asia opportunity," said Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO, Fairfax Financial Holdings.

Thomas Cook will pay Rs320 crore for Kuoni-SOTC (Indian arm) through internal accruals and Rs215 crore for Kuoni's Hong Kong business through a mix of debt and equity.

Thomas Cook said the acquisition of Kuoni would complement and enhance its inbound business and with strong synergies and benefits accruing from their well established presence / global connection in key source markets like Europe.

Currently, Kuoni-SOTC is present in outbound and inbound tour segment and also runs corporate travel business.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be complete be complete before the end of this year.

"With the sale of the tour operating activities in India and Hong Kong, we have completed the sale of the outbound business as announced in January. I'm very pleased that we found forward-looking solutions for the units in India and Hong Kong," said Peter Meier, CEO of Kuoni Group.

Thomas Cook has been aggressive in the M&A market after Prem Watsa's Fairfax Financial Holdings took control of the firm in 2012 with close to 75 per cent stake (Prem Watsa's Fairfax Financial to buy Thomas Cook India for Rs817.4 crore), having acquired Ikya Human Solutions (now rebranded as Quess) and Sterling Holiday. Thomas Cook India currently has presence in 95 cities across India, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

The travel major has been on an acquisition spree to expand its presence in Asia. Recently, the company acquired a Sri Lanka-based destination management company Luxe Asia (See: Thomas Cook India acquires Luxe Asia via Lanka subsidiary).

The acquisition was made through its wholly-owned subsidiary Thomas Cook Lanka (Pvt) Ltd. Thomas Cook plans to operate the new acquisition as an independent entity.

The acquisition of Luxe Asia will give the company a significant presence in Sri Lanka with destination management capabilities in Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean region as also synergies with its key business lines of outbound, inbound and corporate business. 

Based in Sri Lanka, Luxe Asia is focused primarily on inbound tourism from key global markets and services both tour operator and traveller segments across its ten destinations in the Indian Ocean Region and Asia.

Luxe Asia has two joint ventures - Khiri Travels, a leader with over 20 years of operation in the South East Asian region and a Destination Management Company for the UAE market.