Thomas Cook sells stake in Spanish hotel operator

Thomas Cook has started an expected raft of disposals with the sale of its interest in Spanish hotel chain Hoteles Y Clubs De Vacaciones (HCV) to Iberostar for €72.2 million.

The sale of HCV, announced 24 hours ahead of the group’s delayed annual financial results tomorrow, is part of Cook’s disposal programme announced earlier this year.

HCV, together with another shareholder, indirectly owns five Spanish hotels and one golf club as well as operating a second golf club. Cook aims to offload up to £200 million of non-core assets over a six to 18-month period.

HCV is being sold with net debt of €22.4 million, so the transaction will reduce Cook’s net debt by €94.6 million, which equates to around £81 million at current exchange rates.

“The proceeds of the sale of HCV will be used to reduce Thomas Cook’s borrowings and/or for general corporate purposes,” a statement said. Cook will continue to benefit from access to HCV’s hotel portfolio through a separate commercial arrangement agreed with Iberostar.

The deal is expected to complete during the first quarter of 2012.

Cook group chief executive Sam Weihagen said: “I am delighted that we have been able to agree this transaction which will significantly reduce Thomas Cook’s net debt and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to strengthen the balance sheet.

“Importantly for our customers, we have been able to maintain access to this popular portfolio of hotels through a commercial arrangement with our partner Grupo Iberostar.”

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