Cheap holidays for Thomson investors

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THOMSON Travel Group, the UK's largest tour operator, is planning to offer 10 per cent discounts on all its holidays for private investors who buy shares in its forthcoming pounds 1.5bn flotation.

Customers will be able to save almost pounds 50 on the price of an average holiday while a family jetting off to the sun stands to save pounds 120 on a typical break.

Investors who apply for at least pounds 500 worth of shares will be allowed to join the Thomson Founders' Club. As well as cheap holidays they will qualify for a range of perks including seat upgrades on the group's Britannia airline, the chance to have the best hotel rooms on offer, additional luggage allowances and newsletters with special holiday offers.

The 10 per cent discount will apply to all holidays advertised in the Thomson and Skytours brochures as well as getaways with Holiday Cottages. A member of the club will be able to apply for as many holidays as he or she wants providing they travel with the party.

Thomson Travel plans to send details of the perks to more than a million of its customers through the post. It is also launching a national TV advertising campaign to entice the public to subscribe for shares.

The group will issue a flotation prospectus in late April and will join the stock market in early May. Analysts estimate that the group could be valued at up to pounds 1.5bn, although strong interest from private investors and financial institutions could push that price tag even higher.

The shares will not be offered at a discount to employees, although they are likely to be given preferential treatment when the shares are allocated.

Private investors can register for the share offer by contacting share shops including Barclays Stockbrokers, Hargreaves Lansdown, NatWest Brokers, Skipton Building Society and The Share Centre.

About 10 per cent of the shares in the flotation are likely to be allocated to private investors. Another 20 per cent are likely to be taken by the founding Thomson family with the rest awarded to financial institutions.

Thomson's flotation comes as Lunn Poly, its travel agency, continues its battle against the Government over the imposition of a 17.5 per cent insurance premium tax. Thomson is awaiting the outcome of a judicial review into the tax hike.