By
Juliet Dennis

THOMAS
Cook AG has appointed Kuoni board director Wolfgang Beeser – the former boss of
its own German tour operation – as its new group chairman and chief executive.

This
follows the departure of chief executive and chairman Stefan Pichler and chief
financial officer Norbert Kickum in November amid
reports the group would post a loss of up to 300
million euros for the year to October 31, 2003.

Beeser returns to the group after a
four-year gap. He was chairman of NUR Touristic – which owned Thomas Cook’s
core German tour operation Neckermann – until 1999. He joined Kuoni Travel
Holdings in Switzerland in 2001, and became a board director in 2002.

He is said to enjoy the confidence
of shareholders because of his previous career with T
homas Cook which spanned more than 30 years.

He starts at Thomas Cook on January
1 and will be chairman of the four-strong executive board.

Two further appointments have also
been made to the board. Heinz-Ludger Heuberg becomes the new chief financial
officer and human resources director of the group while Ralf Teckentrup takes
responsibility for the airline business. Peter Fankhauser remains responsible
for tourism product on the Thomas Cook executive board.

Meanwhile, Kuoni will announce a replacement for
Beeser at its shareholder meeting on April 28.