Thomson Travel, the holiday company facing a £1.3bn bid from German travel group C&N Touristica, yesterday announced the resignation of the only Thomson family representative on its board. David Thomson, a non-executive director, will step down before the annual meeting on 27 April.
The surprise decision came as Woodbridge International Holdings, the investment vehicle for the Canadian Thomson family, announced it had raised its stake in Thomson from 19.2 to 21.3 per cent.
Mr Thomson is deputy chairman of Woodbridge, which was already Thomson's biggest shareholder. He said: "We are totally supportive of the company and the steps the new management have taken to grow the value of the business." Woodbridge said it raised its holding to express its support for the new management.
The move will give the Thomson family independence from Thomson's board as it attempts to fend off the indicative offer of 130p a share from C&N.
Earlier this week C&N, a joint venture between airline Lufthansa and retailer Karstadt Quelle, said it was willing to discuss improving its £1.3bn offer, in return for a recommendation from the Thomson Board. The move was met with another rejection.
Thomson Travel shares closed down 0.25p at 137p. However, the announcement about Mr Thomson was issued after the market closed.
It is expected that C&N, which has built up a 4.8 per cent stake in Thomson, will have to raise its offer. Thomson came to market at 170p in May 1998.
Thomson Travel appointed a new chief executive, Charles Gurassa, in December last year.