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Mumbai, Dec. 21

THOMAS Cook (India) Ltd, the Indian arm of Europe's second-biggest travel company Thomas Cook, is being taken over by Dubai Investment Group for an undisclosed amount.

In a statement to the BSE on Wednesday, Thomas Cook India said Thomas Cook AG has entered into an agreement to sell 100 per cent of the equity of Thomas Cook International Markets to Dubai Financial (LLC), a subsidiary of Dubai Investment Group (LLC).

Thomas Cook India said Dubai Financial has undertaken to make an open offer as per the SEBI Regulations. According to analysts, the company is likely to de-list from the Indian bourse after completing the buy-out.

The Indian public holds a 20 per cent stake in Thomas Cook India. As per the latest available figures, private corporate bodies (3.04 per cent), NRIs/overseas corporate bodies (0.21 per cent), mutual funds and UTI (4.15 per cent) FIIs (4.06 per cent) and banks and financial institutions (8.46 per cent) hold the remaining 20 per cent.

The company did not disclose the size of the deal. However, reports from Dubai last week suggested that Dubai Investment Group was likely to pay $127 million for the travel and forex management company. These reports said Dubai Investment Group was likely to pay $92 million for a 60 per cent stake in Thomas Cook India and another $35 million for a 20 per cent stake as required under the Indian takeover laws.

For the quarter ended October 31, 2005, Thomas Cook India posted a net profit of Rs 8.76 crore compared to Rs 7.46 crore in the year-ago period. The revenues stood at Rs 28.10 crore in the last quarter, down marginally from previous year's Rs 28.25 crore.

On Tuesday, SEBI exempted Thomas Cook group from making an public open offer for the transfer of a 60 per cent stake in the listed Thomas Cook India to another group company Thomas Cook International Markets Ltd. However, the market regulator has stated that any change in control or acquisition of shares in the target company, unless otherwise exempted, would attract the provisions of the takeover regulations.

Thomas Cook India's share prices ended higher at Rs 600 on the BSE on Wednesday, compared to Tuesday's closing price of Rs 596.70.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 22, 2005)
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