Indian takeover at Asian Trails

BANGKOK, 4 May 2017: Canada’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited has acquired a number of Kuoni’s destination companies, including Thailand headquartered Asian Trails through its fully owned subsidiary Thomas Cook India Group.

Kuoni’s Destination Management Specialists includes Asian Trails, Australian Tours Management, Allied TPro, Desert Adventures and Private Safaris.

The purchase puts the companies under the direct control of Thomas Cook India Group.

Late last week, Kuoni Global Travel Services announced on its investors website that had signed an agreement with travel provider Thomas Cook India Group to sell Kuoni’s network of Destination Management Specialists (DMS) in Asia, Australia, Middle East, Africa and The Americas.

The global network of Destination Management Specialists consists of six largely independent, entrepreneurially managed units that have expert knowledge of their own regions.

Kuoni Destination Management Europe and Kuoni Destination Management US (the Global MICE business) remain in the portfolio of Kuoni Global Travel Services.

The parties have agreed not to disclose further details regarding the purchase price or their contract. The acquisition is subject to approval by the relevant competition authorities.

Thomas Cook India Group is not associated with Thomas Cook Group PLC (UK). They are entirely different companies although using the same brand under an agreement valid until 2025.

Asian Trails chairman Luzi Matzig and CEO Laurent Kuenzle, will continue to lead Asian Trails for the foreseeable future. They both retain partial ownership of Asian Trails Holdings.

However, it would be naïve to believe that their situation will not be altered in the long-term as the Thomas Cook India Group, owned by Fairfax, begins to stamp its authority on the companies that it has acquired. Companies always insist there will be no changes to operations to reassure customers, but buyers eventually position their own people in sensitive areas to safeguard the interests of the owning group’s shareholders.

For the time being there will be no changes in the Asian Trails’ management structure. Asian Trails was formed in 1999 by executives who had had previously worked for Diethelm Travel Group.

In a telephone comment,  Matzig reaffirmed there would be no changes in how Asian Trails conducts its business.

“I can  reassure everyone that whatever changes are made in the ownership structure of Asian Trails that the company will remain committed to its successful business model and corporate DNA that has ensured growth and success since the company was established without outside intervention.”

Swedish buyout firm, EQT Partners AB, won the bidding to buy Kuoni Reisen Holding AG (Kuoni Travel Group) with a 1.39 billion-franc (USD1.4 billion) offer in February 2016.