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Signa Holding and Anex Tour can each acquire parts of Thomas Cook

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | December 1, 2019
The Bundeskartellamt has cleared two concentrations implementing the sale of parts of the insolvent Thomas Cook group.
Thomas Cook
Travel industry   Signa Holding will take over 106 of Thomas Cook’s 126 German travel agencies
Signa Holding GmbH, the parent company of the Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof department store group, will take over 106 of Thomas Cook’s 126 German travel agencies as well as its German online travel booking business.

Topics: Signa Anex Tour Thomas Cook

Furthermore, the Turkish tour operator Anex Tour GmbH will acquire from Thomas Cook the tour operating business of Bucher Reisen & Öger Tours GmbH.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: “Due to Thomas Cook’s difficult situation we conducted the merger control proceedings within one week. We were able to clarify that the concentrations will not give rise to any competition concerns.

"With regard to the acquisition of the travel agencies we have seen that there will still be sufficient alternatives available to both tour operators and end consumers. Nowadays travel agencies are increasingly competing with online suppliers of travel services.

"However, the question of whether both distribution channels can be considered as belonging to the same product market was not decisive in this case.”

Signa is one of the smaller travel agents in Germany, both in stationary and online sales. Via “Karstadt Reisen” the company itself sells holidays both through stationary travel agencies and an internet platform. The travel agencies and assets acquired in this case merely represent a small part of the Thomas Cook group.

Even after the merger, DER Touristik, RT-Vertrieb (rtk) and TUI Deutschland will remain the market leaders by some distance. The merger control examination had to take into account that Karstadt is a member of a cooperation with DER Touristik.

However, even if DER Touristik and the parties to the merger are not considered to be independent competitors, the proposed concentration will not significantly impede effective competition.

The market shares of DER Touristik are below the presumption thresholds for a dominant market position, and the increment by only 106 travel agencies which will be achieved by the merger is extremely low. Even after the merger, tour operators and consumers will still have enough options to choose from.

Both Anex Tour and the target company, Bucher Reisen & Öger Tours, focus on offering their customers package tours to Turkey and the Mediterranean. Internationally, the Anex group is a large tour operator, particularly with view to tourists from Russia and the CIS states. In Germany, the company only plays a minor role.

The same applies to Öger Tours and Bucher Reisen. Even an analysis of market segments (in this case travels to the Mediterranean and in particular to Turkey) and a differentiated assessment according to package tours and individual travel confirmed this view. Irrespective of the type of market assessment, the joint market shares are well below the threshold for a presumption of market dominance.

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