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Competition Commission clears Thomas Cook merger

Competition Commission clears Thomas Cook merger

Beleaguered tour operator Thomas Cook has received some welcome good news, as the Competition Commission issues final approval for its proposed merger with the Co-operative Group (Co-op) and the Midlands Co-operative Society (Midlands).

The decision confirms the provisional findings which were published last month and will lead to the creation of the largest travel retail organisation in the UK.

It comes at a tough time for Thomas Cook, which has issued three profit warnings in the past 12 months and recently parted was with chief executive Manny Fontenla Novoa.

In its final report published today, the CC concluded the acquisition will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in any markets in the UK, in particular for customers buying package holidays from high street travel agents.

Therefore, customers are unlikely to suffer from significantly higher prices or reduced choice as a result of the joint venture.

The joint venture would bring together two of the three largest travel agents on the UK high street.

Thomas Cook currently has 780 stores, Co-op 360 and Midlands 100.

Thomas Cook will continue to conduct its tour operator business separately from the joint venture.

The CC did extend the deadline for the inquiry last month in case the time required to consider any comments received in response to the provisional findings report took it past the original deadline of August 16th – however responses to the provisional findings were received well before the end of the consultation period and it has now published the final report within the original timescale.