The Thomas Cook name could be revived as an online travel agent amid speculation that Chinese conglomerate Fosun is poised to buy the brand.
The Club Med owner and former shareholder in the failed UK travel group is today reported to be in advanced talks to acquire the Thomas Cook name.
A deal to acquire the Thomas Cook assets could be announced as soon as this week, although a number of other groups have been bidding with Tui thought to have had an offer for the domain name turned down.
Fosun would also take over related operations such as the upmarket Casa Cook and Cook’s Club brands, alongside other intellectual property such as domain names, apps, social media and IP addresses.
Acquisition of Thomas Cook’s brand and its intellectual property assets could allow the business to be revived again as an online travel agent just months after its collapse, according to the Financial Times.
Fosun is also still in discussions to separately acquire the Thomas Cook stake in its Chinese joint venture.
It remains unclear the amount Fosun – a former 18.6% shareholder in Thomas Cook – would pay to acquire the assets, which are being sold by AlixPartners, the restructuring group that is acting of behalf of the Official Receiver.
KPMG is still overseeing the sale of Thomas Cook’s airport take-off and landing slots. The two sets of assets are seen as the last remaining parts of real value in the company, after its 550 high street stores were sold to Hays Travel for £6 million.
The FT reported two people briefed on the deal as saying parts of the business acquired by Fosun would in effect allow the Chinese company to create a digital travel agent using the Thomas Cook brand, which still carried considerable weight among European travellers.
Fosun could also use the brand to sell travel packages to holidaymakers from China, linking up with its other tourism businesses, such as Club Med.
Fosun was part of the group of lenders and bondholders that sought to put together a £900 million rescue package that would have saved Thomas Cook in September.
But the plan fell apart after the group failed to secure an extra £200 million needed to win support for the deal, sending the company into liquidation in September.
A spokesman for AlixPartners said the company “is unable to comment on this matter”.