Incredible journey for Thomas Cook FD

After years of accounting controversy and turmoil, travel group MyTravel may
finally be taking a more restful journey. The company is set to merge with
German-owned competitor Thomas Cook.

After MyTravel restructured under finance director John Allkins, Thomas Cook
FD Ludger Heuberg is now set to take over the financial reins at the merged

What happened?
MyTravel’s accounting inaccuracies came to light in 2002, when a £71m
accounts adjustment resulted in a pre-tax loss of £73m. The company also
restated 2001 profits to £62m.

The move heralded the departure of the group’s chief executive and FD. After
another change of FD, Allkins took over the MyTravel hotseat in December 2003.

A year later and the company had begun a financial restructuring, which saw
it convert £800m of unsecured debt and facilities into secured debt and equity ­
a move successfully completed a couple of months later.

The stamp of approval for MyTravel’s business turnaround and commercial
success came last week when Thomas Cook’s owner, KarstadtQuelle, proposed a
merger of the two travel businesses.

Heuberg joined the Thomas Cook board in January 2004 from Lufthansa Cargo,
where he held a senior financial role. His experience is more focused on
manufacturing, where he had spells at baking machinery business Werner &
Pfleiderer and electronics group Bosch.

What’s going to happen?
If the regulators and shareholders are happy with the deal, then it
should be completed by June. The terms of the merger will result in the enlarged
group being 52% owned by KarstadtQuelle and 48% owned by the shareholders of
MyTravel. The board will be independent of KarstadtQuelle, and the company will
be listed in London.

KarstadtQuelle chief executive and chairman Thomas Middelhoff will chair the
new group and MyTravel chairman Michael Beckett will be deputy chair.

Heuberg will take up the FD role in the new company.

The merger will also mark the end of Allkin’s successful spell at MyTravel.
His plans are unknown, but his positive tenure at the company will surely mark
him out as a wanted man in the business community.

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