Turkish investor buys Russia's Intourist from Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook planes on the tarmac at Birmingham airport in Birmingham, England, Sept. 23, 2019. (AP Photo).

A Turkish investor has acquired Intourist, one of Russia's largest tour operators, from collapsed travel group Thomas Cook Group, the Russian company said Friday.

Neşet Koçkar, "the second-largest shareholder in the Thomas Cook Group, announced Friday the signing of an agreement to acquire Intourist from the Thomas Cook Group," Intourist said in a statement, not revealing how much the deal was worth.

Koçkar, who also owns Turkish tour operator Anex, was quoted as saying: "Once we have recapitalized and restructured Intourist, we intend to share Intourist with the Russian people through an IPO to celebrate its glorious comeback."

Intourist is Russia's oldest tour operator, created by the Soviet authorities in 1929 to organize highly controlled visits to the USSR for foreign visitors. It was privatized in the early 1990s. Late last year Thomas Cook bought Intourist from billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's Sistema holding firm.

Thomas Cook collapsed in September this year, triggering Britain's biggest peacetime repatriation of stranded holidaymakers.

Friday's deal will see Koçkar acquire Thomas Cook's "inbound, outbound and domestic tour operator businesses, as well as retail stores, technology and other assets," Intourist said. "Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals," it added.

Intourist "is a very solid brand in the history of both Russian and international tourism and we simply cannot let it vanish," Koçkar said.

Intourist is a "very valuable asset," said Viktor Topolkarayev, the company's director. "The company sustained its regular commercial activities despite the difficulties of Thomas Cook in the U.K.," he added.

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