Media reporting the bail out failed and Thomas Cook will enter insolvency at 8am tomorrow when the LSE opens
How did this happen ?
There has been criticism over the huge bonuses paid to Thomas Cook executives over the past few years, with some, including Labour's Shadow Chancellor, calling for them to pay back some of the money.
Chief executive Peter Fankhauser earned over £8 million over the last five years, including a £2.9 million bonus in 2015.
The Daily Telegraph reports chief financial officers Michael Healy, and Bill Scott who started at the beginning of last year, have together been paid around £7 million since 2014.
More than £4 million was paid in this time to the non-executive directors, including Belgian chairman Frank Meysman, who has taken home £1.6m.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell insisted executives should have to repay some money, saying the company had been 'mismanaged'.
He said: "If this was in the banking sector, we have legitimate practices to deal with these situations."
Fankhauser told the BBC this morning: "I want to apologise to my colleagues who I know will be heart-broken. We all fought so hard to make Thomas Cook a success."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Guardian it was time to 'reflect on whether the directors of these companies are properly incentivised to sort such matters out'.
He said: "I do think that we need to look at ways in which tour operators, one way or another, can protect themselves from such bankruptcies in future. And clearly the systems that we have in place to make sure that companies like Monarch or Thomas Cook don't in the end come to the taxpayer for help, one way or the other, the state will have to step in to help stranded holidaymakers."
Courtesy of Travelmole
Green made light of the situation, saying: "It's not the French nuclear industry".
And she was right. It wasn't nuclear science, it was so much harder.
Thomas Cook was the oldest and one of the biggest UK tour operators. At one time it had also been one of the best loved travel brands in the UK, but it had long since lost its way.
You can track Thomas Cook's current problems back to 2007 when it merged with Airtours' parent MyTravel, which, although profitable at the time, had nearly collapsed four years earlier. The merger between two of the UK's largest travel companies was supposed to create one strong powerhouse, instead it seems to have created an unwieldy monster that dragged them both down. In May this year, Thomas Cook Group announced an astonishing £1.5 billion winter loss, £1.1 billion of which was due to an impairment charge relating to that merger with MyTravel.
Not content with being the number two tour operator, the new Thomas Cook Group, led by Manny Fontenla-Novoa, was also intent on being by far the biggest travel retailer on the high street, so he engineered a merger with the Co-operative Group. The tie-up, which finally went through in October of 2011, created a whopping 1,200-strong retail chain at a time when more and more travel bookings were shifting online.
The merger meant Thomas Cook Group had multiple shops in some towns, sometimes two or more on the same street. It made no sense.
At the time of the merger, Co-op chief executive Peter Marks described it as 'a marriage between two of the industry's most trusted brands', but the high level of customer service for which Thomas Cook had once been valued was no longer always apparent. Ever since the merger, the retailer has been trying to shed stores and jobs.
The Group's financial troubles had started to unfold as early as 2009, when it issued the first of a series of profit warnings; by 2010 its net debt had risen from £249 million in 2007 to £804 million, and by autumn of 2011 - shortly after that merger with the Co-op, it was forced to ask lenders for a £100 million extension to see if through that winter.
There have been many difficult winters since.
Chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa had left (with a £1 million pay off) in August 2011 following three profit warnings in a year. The following year, Harriet Green, a travel industry outsider, was brought in to try to turn the business around.
Green's turnaround strategy included simplifying the business by reducing the number of shops, staff and getting rid of its conflicting brands - and it worked, up to a point. During her tenure, profits rose, the debt started to come down, and the share price rose from 14p to over 130p.
But she didn't get far. Two years into her initial three-year plan, she left. Her departure was abrupt and allegedly came about after her fellow (all male) board members met without Green and told her the following morning that her services were no longer required. The news of her departure triggered a 19% drop in the company's share price.
Peter Fankhauser, who had been Green's second in command, became chief executive on her departure, and it looked as though Thomas Cook might be out of the woods, but its long-term debt has continued to eat away at its earnings.
Undoubtedly, it also struggled to move with the times. Weighed down by so much bricks and mortar, it failed to compete effectively with online rivals, its airline was hit by tough competition from low-cost carriers like easyJet, Norwegian and Ryanair, while Brexit and two heatwaves hit its summer bookings.
In May of this year the company was once again close to collapse, posting a £1.5 billion loss. It limped through the summer, but by August its debt stood at £1.6 billion. By this time, the new 'sunny heart logo', which had been devised by Green's marketing team, was starting to look like a cheap sticking plaster.
Nevertheless, Thomas Cook had one last gasp for survival, with Fankhauser desperately hammering out a rescue deal with the company's biggest shareholder, Chinese travel group Fosun, and its existing banks.
They agreed to stump up a further £900 million and write off the company's debt, but there were warnings it might not have been enough. Thomas Cook's existing lenders were insisting it secured a further £200 million loan facility to make sure it had enough financial headroom to see it through the winter. Not only that, but the rescue package was also opposed by hedge funds that had effectively insured Thomas Cook's debt, which they said would be wiped out by the terms of the rescue package, leaving them with nothing if the company subsequently failed.
Weekend reports suggested the company had just hours left to come up with a deal or run out of cash and be forced to declare itself insolvent. A meeting with creditors took place on Sunday morning.
It reportedly asked the government to ask for a loan, but ministers were not minded to step up. For a start, that might have breached EU rules against state aid.
Instead, they began preparing to repatriate 150,000 to 180,000 of Thomas Cook's clients if, as has now become the case, the company collapsed.
Looking back, its demise was inevitable, but many in the industry believed - and hoped - that it would manage to pull back from the brink once again. The support for Britain's longest established company from within the travel industry was immense, but in the end, that simply wasn't enough.
Courtesy of Travelmole
Banks have to shoulder blame here, they have continued to advance monies when it was obvious these companies (and I include the high street casualties here) were well overextended and had little chance of recovering. Bankers wonder why they are more unpopular than estate agents and their greed is all so obvious here. They never lose simply pushing their bad debts onto the customers in charges. I have never known a poor bookmaker but they are also rans compared to bankers.
On 23rd September 2019 at 08:41am, SMa said:
I was booked to fly to Holguin next March with Thomas Cook for a dance holiday but I will be covered by the ATOL licence of the company that runs these holidays - I always get them to book my flights and not just the land package for that very reason. So I'll get my money back but it will mean a far less convenient journey. For the moment, I'm holding off getting in touch with them because their customer service is excellent and I know that they will do whatever they can to sort this out. But I know that their priority this week is going to be sorting out alternative travel for a complete choir participating in the Santiago da Cuba choir festivel next month and for whom they were handing all the travel and accommodation arrangements. They're going to be hardpressed to find alternative flights for that number of people just 4 weeks before they should have been going. I really feel sorry for this choir because they've been fundraising for this trip for probably 12 months now and if they can't get affordable flights they might end up not going at all for what would have been a once in a lifetime experience for them as a complete choir.
I see "supply and demand" is raising its ugly head today - already stories of increases in alternative flights of £000s - and the ex Thomas Cook pilot on BBC this a.m quoting $10,000 for return flight price from Las Vegas for out of work flight crew stranded there !!!
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