The Chief Executive of the Thomson Travel Group, Charles Gurassa, was in Palma last night for the presentation of the annual Thomson Gold Medals, but his visit was overshadowed by the purchase of the travel group by the German group Preussag, which owns leading German tour operator TUI. Majorcan hoteliers reacted nervously to the buy-out on Monday but last night Gurassa tried to ease the hotel sector's fears. Gurassa pointed out that TUI and Thomson holidays have two different markets. While some resorts are very popular with the Germans, others are favoured by the British, hence he does not foresee any problems arising with hoteliers losing negotiating power as the European tourism market becomes dominated by the few. The Chief Executive also ruled out that with the eventual purchase, expected to be finalised around the end of June, the fact the Preussag group will control 25 per cent of all beds in the Balearics will lead to price fixing. Gurassa said that, on the one hand, price fixing is illegal and on the other the deal will enable better relationships with the hoteliers to be developed and a better quality product. Gurassa brushed aside talk of the deal being unwelcome on the British high street, saying that a German company buying Britain's leading tour operator was not even an issue in Britain. As far as Gurassa is concerned, the deal will mean better value for money and better quality for clients - this summer Thomson Holidays will bring some 530'000 tourists to Majorca alone, carry a total of three million to summer destinations worldwide and a further one million clients during the winter. But apart from being good news for the consumer the offer, the board considers, provides fair value for share holders. The Thomson board met on Sunday and unanimously agreed to recommend Preussag's proposal for the purchase of the company to the share holders. Gurassa said that, compared with the initial price offered on the first day of the failed bid by C&N Touristic, Preussag's proposal offers an 89 pence premium.
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