The European Commission has approved the proposed merger of First Choice and TUI, paving the way for the creation of TUI Travel PLC.


In a company statement First Choice CEO Peter Long said: “We are pleased that the Commission has recognised the sea-change in the leisure travel industry brought about by Internet-based travel and tourism businesses and the low cost airlines.


“We will now be able to press forward with the merger process and the creation of TUI Travel PLC… and look forward to the future with confidence.”


The merger still remains subject to approval by the UKLA, First Choice shareholders and the UK High Court, however, and the EC’s approval is dependent upon TUI offloading its Budget Travel business in Ireland.


The expected timetable of key events is:


29 June 2007
UKLA approval and publication of the TUI Travel PLC prospectus


Early July 2007
Posting of the First Choice Scheme of Arrangement circular and TUI Travel
PLC prospectus to First Choice shareholders


By 1 October 2007
Delisting of First Choice shares and listing of TUI Travel PLC shares


In its statement First Choice said that exact dates would be “decided shortly” for the posting of the First Choice Scheme of Arrangement circular and the TUI Travel PLC prospectus to First Choice shareholders; the First Choice shareholder meetings; the High Court hearing; and the final merger steps.