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Kuoni set for takeover as turnaround takes shape?

Travel company shifted focus to business travel services in 2015 as part of turnaround plan

Pictured: New Kuoni CEO Zubin Karkaria

Potential buyers are reported to be circling troubled travel company Kuoni.

Speculation has linked Swedish buyout firm EQT and private equity group Cinven with the Swiss company, which is ditching its consumer travel businesses in favour of business travel operations.

In January 2015, Kuoni announced plans to sell off tour operating activities, including the UK base in Surrey, plus Kuoni Switzerland, Benelux, Hong Kong/China and India as well as operations in Scandinavia/Finland, following 2013 losses of £4.6 million. 

The company subsequently appointed a new CEO, Zubin Karkaria, and said it would press on with turnaround plans to focus on business travel services.

A statement on a potential takeover said: “Kuoni Group's Board of Directors has taken notice of the recent media speculations around a potential takeover of the company. The board confirms that it has received preliminary approaches from third parties regarding a potential offer for the Kuoni Group and its businesses.

"Discussions are at a preliminary stage and there can be no certainty at this stage that an offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made. The Board of Directors is evaluating the situation, also taking into consideration all other strategic possibilities.”

Karkaria’s appointment accompanied a restructure of the Global Travel Services (GTS) Division in November.

The statement added: “The measures to accelerate the implementation of the strategic direction, are unchanged. It is the Executive Board’s task to develop the operational businesses of all divisions.”

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