Arcandor clings on to Thomas Cook

Collapsed retail giant Arcandor is insisting it has no immediate plans to relinquish its controlling stake in Thomas Cook to creditor banks, leading to a potentially lengthy battle over the fate of its shareholding in the tour operator.

Arcandor became one of Europe’s largest non-banking failures during the credit crisis when it filed for protection from its creditors on Tuesday.
Following a board meeting, one adviser to Arcandor said the group was hoping to hold on for now to its 52.7 percent stake in Thomas Cook, the majority of was fronted against loans of €960m from eight banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Commerzbank and Bayern LB.

However the banks appear in no hurry either to get the ball rolling. “Getting the 45 per cent of Thomas Cook shares owed could take months,” one banking adviser told the Financial Times. “But the banks are still looking into some potential technical problems, and asset values are down, so there doesn’t appear to be undue pressure from their side.”

The banks hope to avoid having to make a full takeÂover bid for Thomas Cook under UK company law if they seize Arcandor’s stake.

Bankers hope to meet Arcandor’s administrator for an initial discussion by next week.

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Under German law a company’s management is granted three months to produce a restructuring plan that meets the approval of an adminÂistrator appointed by the court.

Arcandor has appointed restructuring expert Horst Piepenburg to advise on the dispostal. “What’s clear is that Eick and Piepenburg are dead set on pursuing the idea of restructuring Arcandor and bringing it out of insolvency in good shape,” an adviser to the retailer told the FT.
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