Cook has entered into a new joint venture partnership with Ionic Invest to take a 30% stake in Biblio.
Ionic is owned by Sarpedon Travel, one of Cook’s long-standing DMC partners.
The move, says Cook, will allow it to “diversify” its customer base and secure additional flight capacity in Russia by leveraging Biblio’s relationship with Aeroflot subsidiary Rossiya.
It also says the deal will “open up further growth opportunities” in Russia starting this summer.
Biblio currently has about three million Russian passengers, split 50-50 between domestic and overseas holidays.
Thomas Hohn, Cook chief of continental Europe source markets, said: “The acquisition of Biblio Globus in partnership with Ionic Invest gives Thomas Cook a unique opportunity to expand our presence in Russia and tap into new opportunities in a growing market.
“With its strong brand, best-in-class technology and diversified destination mix, Biblio Globus will help strengthen our tour operating business in Russia while at the same time introducing a new group of customers to our own-brand hotels in the eastern Mediterranean.”
The joint venture will put up an initial $10 million for a full acquisition of Biblio, with Cook stumping up a further $3 million for its 30% stake upon completion, likely by the end of May.
A further $10 million will be paid by the joint venture in January 2020.
The transaction could eventually rise to $150 million, including the initial outlay, based on the operator achieving “aggressive three-year operating profit targets”.
The announcement came the same day Cook announced 21 UK store closures, placing 320 roles at risk across its retail network.
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