By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
Thomas Cook shares were halted Monday as the travel company filed for liquidation, wiping out a company worth over £1.85 billion ($2.3 billion) little more than a year ago.
The company’s chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, blamed an additional facility requested in the last few days for the liquidation, a reference to the roughly £200 million sought by creditors including Lloyds /zigman2/quotes/202285510/delayed UK:LLOY +1.38% and the Royal Bank of Scotland /zigman2/quotes/209265718/delayed UK:RBS +0.83% .
The collapse led the British government to announce the largest peacetime repatriation in history as it sought to bring home 150,000 U.K. customers.
Thomas Cook’s most recent financial report showed net debt of £1.25 billion and a first-half ending March 31 loss of £1.46 billion. It blamed a summer heatwave for reducing demand for winter holidays, and Brexit for delaying U.K. customer travel plans. Thomas Cook said in May that economic and political uncertainty led to high levels of promotional activity, and that higher fuel and hotel costs also were weighing on the current year.
Thomas Cook shares were as high as 123.6 pence as recently as April 2018. The shares closed Friday, at 3.45 pence.
The move did lift rival airlines, with easyJet shares /zigman2/quotes/202825892/delayed UK:EZJ +0.76% surging 4%, and Ryanair /zigman2/quotes/202851567/delayed UK:RYA -0.97% adding 1%. Travel operator Tui /zigman2/quotes/207049334/delayed UK:TUI -0.30% surged 7%.
The broader FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.27% weakened 0.29% to 7323.41, a slightly better performance than the rest of Europe /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -0.86% .