Carlson Companies, Inc., headquartered in Minneapolis, U.S.A., today announced it has reached an agreement, to sell its current 22 percent ownership share of Thomas Cook Holdings, as well as the option for all remaining shares, to German tour conglomerate C&N of Frankfurt, Germany.
Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Carlson Companies` Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said: “As difficult as this decision is, after thoroughly exploring our options we have negotiated an arrangement which we believe is in the best interests of both Carlson and Thomas Cook. It allows our company to accelerate our global expansion across our core businesses and frees us to pursue several options; it also allows Thomas Cook the opportunity to become an important element of a pan-European travel organization.”
Carlson became a shareholder of Thomas Cook in 1999 when it tendered its wholly owned Carlson Worldchoice travel operations (formerly A.T. Mays) for an ownership position in a new, expanded Thomas Cook. The company, with its partners, invested in Cook growth, particularly in the Internet arena, and increased the value of the Thomas Cook organization while ensuring its future viability.
Carlson says the Cook sale will enable it to move “even more rapidly” against its already-aggressive growth plan in its other European businesses and throughout the world, particularly Asia, where company officials note a promising GDP growth rate. JP Morgan advised Carlson on the Cook sale.
Systemwide turnover under Carlson brands in 1999 was $31.4 billion, with wholly owned operations generating nearly a third, or $9.8 billion, of that amount.
Carlson will continue to grow in the European marketplace through its ownership interest in Carlson Wagonlit Travel®, Carlson Marketing Group®, and through its hospitality brands and partners. These brands include Regent® Hotels International, Radisson Hotels & Resorts®, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises®, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson®, and its T.G.I Friday`s® restaurant brand.