Thomas Cook India, already the largest tour operator in India, has grown larger still with the acquisition at the end of last month of TC Travel and Services. Officially, the acquisition was completed at the end of October when the Thomas Cook Group—it is owned by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial Holdings, which was created by India-born Prem Watsa, who has been called the “Canadian Warrant Buffett”—completed its acquisition of Tata Capital Limited. The purchase included the wholly-owned subsidiaries, Tata Capital Limited, Tata Capital Forex and TC Travel and Services. (The acquired companies will henceforth be referred to as TC Forex Services Ltd. and TC Travel and Services Ltd.)
TC Travel and Services and TC Forex Services (foreign exchange activity is a major component of the travel industry in India) includes 24 locations and 263 employees throughout India. Madhavan Menon, chairman and managing mirector, Thomas Cook (India) said: “Our acquisition of Tata Capital’s Forex and travel companies serves to further reiterate our focus on the travel and foreign exchange sector in the country.”
The acquisition of TC Travel and Sources marks the third major step in the entry into, and growth of, the Fairfax Financial presence in the tour and travel industry in India since the company acquired Thomas Cook India in 2012, when the number of visitors from India to the USA totaled 724,000. The U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office has forecast that the number should double by next year, to 1,457,000.
Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings went on to acquire, in August 2015, the holdings of Kuoni India, as Kuoni began to divest itself of its holdings on its way to being acquired by the Swedish private equity firm, EQT Partners, in February 2016.
Thomas Cook India has maintained Kuoni’s SOTC brand, which is a familiar presence at international travel trade shows, including IPW.
There is no dispute as to the ranking of Thomas Cook India as the nation’s number one tour operator whose operations also include foreign exchange, visa, passport and travel insurance services. It is listed overall as the second largest travel company in India, just after the online travel agency, MakeMyTrip. Prior to its latest acquisition, Thomas Cook India it had about 3,000 employees.