Thomas Cook’s Nordic subsidiary, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia, is assuming a new identity as Sunclass Airlines after a group of investors bought Thomas Cook’s Northern European operations parent company, Ving Group.
British based global travel group, Thomas Cook Group, ceased trading last month and went into liquidation. Some 600,000 customers were left stranded around the world and approximately 21,000 employees found themselves out of work.
But Flight Global is reporting that a group of investors have bought Ving Group. Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia had temporarily ceased operations following the bankruptcy of its parent company but resumed flying within days.
The consistently profitable Ving Group is a separate legal entity from Thomas Cook Group and moved fast to distance itself from the collapsed UK travel behemoth. Ving’s Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia is headquartered in Denmark, has a fleet of 12 aircraft, and focuses on chartered holiday travel.
Unlike Thomas Cook UK, the Nordic subsidiary has no shopfronts and does most of its business online. It has been looking for fresh financial backing since the collapse of Thomas Cook. Now, it will become Sunclass Airlines, thanks to the backing of new investors.
Who is behind the buyout?
The consortium that bought Thomas Cook Scandinavia / Ving Group is made up of three groups. Strawberry Group, which is controlled by Petter Stordalen, is taking a 40% stake. Altor Funds, a private equity firm, is taking a 40% stake. The final 20% stake is being taken by the British private equity firm, TDR Capital. Between them, they are making available USD$618 in liquidity and guarantees.
Altor Funds partner, Harald Mix, said to Flight Global;
“It’s a fantastic business that has ended up in a very unfortunate situation.”
In 2018, Ving Group made a profit of 1.4 billion crowns. Strawberry Group’s Petter Stordalen has said Thomas Cook Scandinavia has strong range of brands (including Spies, Globetrotters and Tjareborg) and was amongst Scandinavia’s best tour operators. Mr Stordalen has said;
“Ving has always been a solid company. The truth is, Ving did everything right. Thomas Cook did everything wrong.”
Ving Group’s response
At a media conference held yesterday, Wednesday, October 30, 2019, Ving Group CEO, Magnus Wikner said;
“It has been a very complex deal and has happened very fast. For us, it was incredibly important to find an owner that has the strategic competence and financial strength to become a good, long term owner for us.”
The deal will also save the jobs of the approximately 2,300 employees working for Ving, including those at Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia and its other business groups.
It’s good to see something positive salvaged from the ruins of the Thomas Cook collapse. Ving Group notes that its tours will operate throughout the transition period, saying it is business as usual for customers.
Simple Flying has contacted Ving Group seeking further comment on their freshly rebranded airline but has not heard back prior to publication.