Thomas Cook buys Canadian company

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THOMAS COOK, which recently helped Owners Abroad to beat off a bid from Airtours, has bought Canada's biggest travel company, writes John Murray.

Cook, owned by WestDeutsche Landesbank, is to pay Cdollars 22m ( pounds 11.1m) for Marlin Travel, with a further performance-related deferred consideration of Cdollars 3m. Marlin has 251 owned and franchised branches and 8 per cent of the market. The combined businesses will have more than 350 branches and market share of 11 per cent. Lester Porter, Cook's commercial director, said: 'We wanted to build up our business in Canada and this was a good opportunity.'

Cook would not give any details of Marlin's recent financial performance, but Mr Porter said the company had never been in financial difficulty despite losing the Canadian government's business 18 months ago.

Gary Elliot, Marlin's president, will run the combined operation. Rod Marlin, founder and chairman, will act as a consultant. The two men hold 26 per cent each of the equity.

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