TCIL to acquire branding rights for India, SL

The Logo of Thomas Cook India Ltd. AFP photo

Travel services firm Thomas Cook India on Tuesday said it has entered into an agreement to acquire the rights of the Thomas Cook brand in India, Sri Lanka and Mauritius for around Rs 13.9 crore.

The company has signed a pact with AlixPartners, Thomas Cook UK's appointed special managers, to acquire the exclusive ownership of the brand in these three markets for a one-time payment of GBP 1.5 million (around Rs 13.9 crore), the travel services company said in a statement.

"I am delighted that we have been able to sign an agreement to acquire the rights to the iconic Thomas Cook brand across India, Mauritius & Sri Lanka. The brand is one of the most respected names in the travel services space and one that we at Thomas Cook India have operated uninterrupted for 138 years since 1881," Thomas Cook (India) Chairman & MD Madhavan Menon said.

Thomas Cook India Ltd (TCIL) was previously contracted to pay an annual brand licence fee of Rs 2 crore to Thomas Cook UK until 2024 for the usage of the brand.

"So when this very attractive investment opportunity of complete ownership of the brand name across these markets, for a one-time payment of Rs 139 million came up, it truly was an opportunity we had to grab," Menon said.

TCIL's acquisition of the exclusive ownership of the Thomas Cook brand in these markets means that it can now use the iconic travel services brand name that they have operated for 138 years in India, the statement said.

The pact also ensures brand use rights in perpetuity and means that TCIL can use the brand in perpetuity on a royalty-free basis, it added.

This move by TCIL also prevents possible new entrants into these markets, using the brand name.

Speaking to PTI on the reasons for acquiring the rights to the brand, Menon said: "With this acquisition, we actually believe that we have mitigated the risk of a comprehensive brand change and that, you know, we have the existing brand and we can play around with it in terms of refurbishing it. But otherwise, we have mitigated the risk of an expensive brand change."

If TCIL had not acquired this brand, potentially after in 2025, a global competitor could have acquired this brand and come into this market and use the name again, he added.

After the collapse of Thomas Cook UK in September, Canada-based Fairfax Financial Holdings-owned Thomas Cook India had clarified that it was a completely different entity and the failure of the UK firm would not have any impact on it.

The Group continues to remain financially strong with cash and bank deposits balances of Rs 1,088.3 crore as of September 30, 2019. On a standalone basis Thomas Cook India is debt-free, the statement said.

The Group generates an average annual free cash flow of around Rs 200 crore, it added.

In addition to Thomas Cook, the Thomas Cook India Group operates leading B2C and B2B travel brands including SOTC, TCI, SITA, Asian Trails, Allied T Pro, Australian Tours Management, Desert Adventures, Luxe Asia, Kuoni Hong Kong, TC Travel, Private Safaris East & South Africa, Sterling Holidays and Digiphoto Entertainment Imaging, with strategic investments in Ithaka by Travel Junkie Solutions, the statement said.

Shares of Thomas Cook India Ltd closed at Rs 155.55 on BSE, down 2.81 per cent from the previous close.

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