Thomas Cook pension fund trustees ponder deal with Aviva

Trustees of the Thomas Cook pension fund are considering a deal with insurance giant Aviva to guarantee continuation of the scheme and protect payments to former workers of the failed group.

Sky News revealed the prospect of an £850-million deal between the Thomas Cook pension scheme trustees and Aviva on Wednesday.

It reported the trustees have selected the insurer as their preferred partner more than three years after Thomas Cook’s collapse into liquidation in September 2019.

However, no details of an agreement have been finalised.

The Thomas Cook pension scheme reportedly had about 14,000 members when the company went into liquidation after failing to secure the £1 billion it required to continue trading.

The Thomas Cook brand was subsequently acquired by Chinese group Fosun Travel Group, part of Fosun International, which had been exploring a deal to rescue Cook in advance of the group’s failure.

Fosun paid just £11 million for the Thomas Cook name, along with the Casa Cook and Cook’s Club hotel brands in November 2019, and relaunched Cook as an online travel agency (OTA) in September 2020.

It was reported earlier this month that Fosun had put the business up for sale as it seeks to cut debt.

Fosun is also reported to being seeking to sell the Club Med chain of all-inclusive resorts.

However, when reports of a potential sale emerged last November, Fosun denied them, with a spokesperson telling Travel Weekly: “Fosun Tourism Group has no plans to sell Thomas Cook.”

Fosun International group executive president Andrew Xu described Thomas Cook, Club Med and Fosun Tourism Group as among Fosun’s “core assets” last year, and said: “We are trying to optimise the business model of Thomas Cook and Thomas Cook China and will keep our commitment to this brand.”

Yet Fosun has also confirmed plans “to reinforce its financial structure by disposing of €7 billion to €11 billion of non-core assets”.

A group spokesperson said this month: “We have been conducting a structured review of our portfolio companies since last year.”

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