Intourist sold to the Turks

An Intourist, the Russian “daughter” of the ruined British tourist holding Thomas Cook, will go to Anex Tourism, this Turkish group is associated with the Russian tour operator Anex Tour.
Origin source
The founder of Anex Tourism, Turkey, Neshet Kochkar, announced to the local publication TurizmGuncel about the purchase of the Russian tour operator Intourist. He did not disclose the details of the transaction, promising to make a more detailed statement later.

A representative of Anex Tourism suggested that RBC wait for an official message from Intourist itself. The representative of the Russian company did not confirm or refute the fact of the transaction, saying that comments would be provided later.

Intourist is the Russian subsidiary of the British Thomas Cook Group, which announced its liquidation due to financial problems in late September.

The sale of Thomas Cook's assets continues, the process is nearing completion, said RBC a representative of the British financial regulator, which controls the liquidation of the holding. Businesses in Scandinavia, the Thomas Cook brand itself and related hotel brands have already been sold.

Transaction subject

The British group became a co-owner of Intourist in 2011, creating a joint venture with AFK Sistema. Vladimir Yevtushenkov’s corporation contributed its tour operator and travel agent business to the joint company and received 49.9% in it, Thomas Cook - 50.1%, having paid $ 45 million for the right to work on the Russian market. But since Intourist’s business turned out to be unprofitable after closing the transaction , the British in 2013, without any surcharges, increased their stake to 75%, and at the end of 2018 became the sole owner of Intourist.

In 2018, the local operating subsidiary Thomas Cook notified Rostourism about 322.6 thousand clients sent abroad and about 10.2 billion rubles worth of tours sold to them. The Turkish industry press, however, provides the following data: in only one Turkish Antalya, the Intourist host company served 488 thousand people in 2018.

Intourist’s performance in Thomas Cook’s statements was last disclosed for fiscal 2015: then, with a revenue of £ 144 million, Russian business first showed a profit of £ 1 million. In subsequent years, Intourist’s revenue grew and it still made a profit, it follows from reporting. The main focus for Intourist, according to Thomas Cook, has been Turkey in recent years.

Transaction initiator

Neshet Kochkar is known as the founder of the Turkish group Anex Tourism, associated with the Russian tour operator Anex Tour. True, since 2016, this relationship has not been officially traced. The founder of Anex Tourism LLC, which sends Anex Tour clients abroad, is Asek Yeshpulatov in the register.

This is a consequence of the Russian-Turkish conflict that occurred after the Turkish military shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter on the Syrian border in November 2015. In late December 2015, Rostourism excluded from the register of tour operators companies related to Turkish business, including the Anex Tour structure. As noted in the Federal Tourism Agency, this was done in accordance with the decree of President Vladimir Putin "on the application of special economic measures in relation to the Republic of Turkey." Now founded by Turkish businessmen, Russian tour operators prefer not to advertise ties with their parent companies.

The current operating company Anex Tour reported to Rostourism about only 63 thousand clients sent abroad in 2018. They sold tours worth 2.5 billion rubles. According to the Turkish press, in 2018, the host company Anex Tourism in Antalya received more than 1 million tourists - these are not only Russians, but also citizens of neighboring countries and Germany, where Anex Tour also operates.

The strategic partner of Anex Tour is Azur Air, whose fleet now has 29 Boeing of various modifications and which is the largest charter carrier in Russia (over 6 million passengers in the nine months of 2019). The owners of Azur Air LLC through Van2Fly LLC are Anna Fukalova (55%) and Natalya Kochkar (45%), who previously worked on the Anex Tour. Earlier, Rustem Kochkar was among the airline owners.

Prerequisites for the transaction

Nachet Kochkar became a shareholder of Thomas Cook in July this year - in a few days he bought up 8.1% of the British holding in the market, spending about £ 6 million, according to RBC estimates.

Kochkar put together his package after Thomas Cook shares fell 2.4 times on the London Stock Exchange during the day - from 13.3 pence per security to 5.38 pence (the capitalization of the entire group dropped to £ 82 million). Then the management of Thomas Cook proposed a plan to recapitalize the group, which would allow it to cope with financial problems: the largest shareholder of the British group is the Chinese Fosun (about 13% at the end of fiscal 2018) and bondholders planned to invest £ 700 million in Thomas Cook. As a result, Fosun's share was supposed to increase, lenders were supposed to enter Thomas Cook's capital, and the shares of all other shareholders would be diluted.

Buying up shares, Kochkar risked - his package should inevitably become cheaper. But in an interview with Bloomberg, the founder of Anex Tourism stated that he has his own plan for the financial recovery of Thomas Cook.

The recapitalization plan failed: Thomas Cook management was unable to negotiate with creditors, who at the last moment demanded guarantees from the UK government. As a result, the group was forced to start the liquidation process. That day, Kochkar, through his representative, informed RBC that he had already contacted the Thomas Cook administration and shared plans with it to purchase individual holding assets. “The vacuum created by the unexpected collapse of the Thomas Cook Group makes it possible to make Anex a global player,” said Kochkar.

Transaction amount

Kochkar, along with Roman Batalov, son-in-law of former Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev, is ready to buy Intourist for $ 10 million, Forbes reported earlier. Kochkar denied the partnership with a Russian businessman, the Turkish press reported.

Kochkar has shown interest in individual Tomas Cook assets in Germany, wrote the German industry publication FVW last week. Intourist may be sold together with part of the German business, but in any case, you will have to pay for a profitable Russian asset, suggested the interlocutor of RBC.