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Fairfax-controlled Thomas Cook acquires digital imaging solutions firm
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Listed travel company Thomas Cook (India) Ltd said on Monday that it will buy a majority stake in Dubai-based digital imaging services and solutions provider Digiphoto Entertainment Imaging (DEI) to expand its core business portfolio.

Thomas Cook, which is majority-owned by India-born Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, will buy 51% stake in DEI at an enterprise value of $40.6 million (Rs 289 crore), the company informed the stock exchanges.

This translates into roughly $21 million, or Rs 148 crore, for the majority stake purchase. The deal, which requires various regulatory approvals, will be funded through internal accruals.

The acquisition of DEI will help the Thomas Cook Group strengthen its business and financial base by way of increased revenue and healthy cash flow generation, the company said. 

Souvenir imaging is adjacent to the travel sector which enables the company to further expand its width of offerings, besides expanding its core business to newer geographies, Thomas Cook added.

“With several key markets in common, the (acquisition) also presents new synergistic opportunities leveraging our travel services across 25 countries,” said Thomas Cook’s chairman and managing director Madhavan Menon.

“With the growing demand for experiential travel and social sharing, DEI’s partnerships with iconic attractions, theme parks, water parks and resorts will further enhance our travel services portfolio in line with our philosophy of creating long-term shareholder value,” Menon added.

Shares of Thomas Cook closed at Rs 215.10 apiece on the BSE, up 0.9% from the previous close.

DEI

The company owns rights to 14 intellectual properties (IP) which it considers the backbone of its imaging program. 

DEI’s profit has grown at a compounded annual rate of 10% from $2.8 million in 2014 to $4 million in 2018. Its EBITDA margin has improved at a compounded annual rate of 7.2% in the same duration. EBITDA stands for earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation.

The company has regional offices in Orlando, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai. It employs 1,800 people.

DEI has tied up with Desaru Adventure Waterpark in Malaysia, Farah Experiences in Abu Dhabi and Atlantis Sanya in China, according to its website. 

Thomas Cook

Fairfax had acquired Thomas Cook in 2012, its first buyout since setting up its India office the year before that.

Fairfax then turned Thomas Cook into an investment platform for acquisitions, its top India executive Harsha Raghavan had told VCCircle in an interview in early- 2013. Fairfax then had more than $30 billion in assets.

Thomas Cook acquired majority stake in human resources staffing firm Ikya Human Capital Solutions six years ago.

In May 2017, Thomas Cook acquired Kuoni Group's destination management business to expand its global footprint. Thomas Cook (India) had earlier bought Kuoni Group’s travel and tour business in India and Hong Kong.

Last October, Thomas Cook forayed into the travel-tech space with an investment in Traveljunkie Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which runs Ithaka, an app offering chat-based real-time travel advice from destination experts.

Fairfax, through Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, owns 49.02% of Quess Corp Limited, a provider of integrated business services, and 100% of Sterling Holiday Resorts Ltd, a company engaged in timeshare and resort business.

Thomas Cook (India) offers a broad spectrum of services that include foreign exchange, corporate travel, meetings, incentives, conferences & events (MICE), leisure travel, insurance, visa and passport services, and e-business. 

The travel company has a presence in 25 countries across five continents and operates a slew of brands including Thomas Cook, SOTC, TCI, SITA, Asian Trails, Allied T Pro, Australian Tours Management, and Desert Adventures among others.

It employs 8,226 people and had consolidated revenue of Rs 11,411.6 crore (over $1.75 billion) in the financial year 2017-18.

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