Petter Stordalen together with Altor and TDR Capital have signed an agreement to acquire the Nordic region’s most successful travel company Thomas Cook Northern Europe, also known as Ving, Spies, Tjäreborg, Globetrotter and Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia with more than 60 years of experience (together called Ving Group).
Today, the new owners were presented at a press conference in Stockholm. It will be Strawberry Group, controlled by Petter Stordalen together with Altor Fund V (Altor) and TDR Capital, which ensures a strong and long-term Nordic majority ownership of the Nordic business with a total of 2,300 employees.
“I am extremely pleased that Stordalen, Altor and TDR will become our new owners. Their long experience from the industry and financial strength will give us the long-term stability that we need as well as new opportunities to develop our offering in the future. The deal also means that the jobs for the more than 2,300 employees are secured. I would like to extend a big thank you to all our customers who have shown us tremendous support in recent weeks. Together with the new Nordic owners, we will continue to give our guests the best weeks of the year,” says Magnus Wikner, CEO, Ving Group.
“Today is a big day for a man who loves the travel industry. The Nordic business has created a portfolio of strong Nordic brands, and is today the crown jewel among Nordic tour operators. That is why I am incredibly proud that, together with two solid partners, we have reached a solution that allows us to secure the future of these companies. And not least, the 400,000 people who have already booked their Christmas, winter and summer holidays through Ving, Spies, Tjäreborg and Globetrotter, that now will have their holidays secured. This agreement primarily means security for customers and staff. And with a strong and long-term Nordic ownership, the Ving Group now has the conditions needed to do what they are best at: creating unique xperiences for their guests and giving their customers the “best week of the year“, says the new owner, Strawberry Group’s Petter Stordalen.
Strawberry Group and Altor acquires 40 percent each of the company and TDR Capital the remaining 20 percent.
“It is a fantastic business that has ended up in a very unfortunate situation. The Ving group is the market leader in the holiday business, thanks to its own hotel concepts such as Sunwing and Sunprime and has also been the leaders in the transition to online bookings. Through a financial restructuring, we, as new owners, together with other financiers, will secure about SEK 6 billion in liquidity and guarantees. It secures operations and creates a solid base for future development,” says Harald Mix, partner at Altor.
The operations will be transferred to a new group, where the transaction involves a combination of assets and shares in the companies from the former legal structure of the Nordic Group. Technically, this means that some of the Swedish companies will now file for bankruptcy, in order for all operations then being taken over directly by the new group, created by the owners. The acquisition includes all ongoing operations and has no impact on the current or upcoming trips of the Ving Group’s guests. In practice, this means that Ving Sweden (as well as Thomas Cook Northern Europe and Thomas Cook Nordic Holding) files for bankruptcy in order for all operations being taken over directly by the newly formed group, provided that the bid is accepted. All operations and employees are expected to be relocated to and continue to live in the new company within the next 24 hours.