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Preussag with a clear focus on tourism after the acquisition of Thomson

In an extraordinary meeting last Thursday, the Preussag<.> AG management board presented the strategic repositioning of the Group…

In an extraordinary meeting last Thursday, the Preussag<.> AG management board presented the strategic repositioning of the Group to the Preussag AG supervisory board. The restructuring of the portfolio involves the further focusing of Preussag`s business on tourism activities. This is associated with the disinvestment of most of its industrial participations.



According to Dr. Michael Frenzel, Preussag AG management board chairman, in his speech to the supervisory board: Preussag will continue to systematically pursue its strategic and structural repositioning concentrating on tourism, and develop into a pure services group. Tourism is one of the highest potential growth sectors in Europe. This growth potential is the basis of our strategic repositioning.



Moving away from building engineering



As part of the repositioning of the Group, all of the Group`s traditional businesses were analysed with regard to basic strategic aspects as well as the impact of the recently passed tax reform bill. It is therefore planned to realise the intended strategically-based disposal of the successful building engineering companies by selling each company separately.



According to Dr. Frenzel: We will implement our sale of these companies swiftly against the background of the tax opportunities available to us. We currently envisage implementing some of these planned sales by the end of 2001, whilst other disinvestments will not take place until 2002. We plan to promptly identify interested purchasers for all four of the building engineering companies, Wolf, Fels, Kermi and Minimax, and thus to keep the period of uncertainty for the companies and their employees as short as possible.



Oil and gas stay in the Group



The Group plans to retain Preussag Energie GmbH`s oil and gas business. However, agreement has been reached to dispose of the Deutag group with its engineering and drilling services. This will have no negative impact on the core business of the Energy Division.



The metals trading business of W. & O. Bergmann has been sold to a subsidiary of the energy and communications company Enron Corp -subject to competition authority approval. Disinvestment models for the other trading companies are being elaborated. No decision has yet been reached on the timing of the sale of the US trading companies.



One of the key elements of Preussag`s restructuring also includes the already announced sale of its real estate. The sale of the flats – as in the past – will be carried out in a socially-compatible way which takes into account the interests of the tenants.



Financing concept for Thomson optimised



An inflow of more than Euro three billion is expected from the above-mentioned sales, the disinvestments of other non-core activities, as well as the sale of the Thomas Cook shareholding. The disinvestment programme associated with the repositioning gives Preussag the flexibility to optimise the financing for the Thomson Travel Group, as well as to realise additional expansion opportunities. There are therefore currently no plans to carry out a capital increase. In addition, agreement has been reached to postpone the placing of up to 49 per cent of Hapag-Lloyd shares on the stock market until 2002 at the earliest.



Group to become the tourism management holding



The repositioning of the Group has a logical impact on Preussag`s management structure. Because tourism is now the main element of the Group portfolio, Preussag AG will become a tourism management holding. The management responsibilities of the Tui Group – which was previously responsible for the Preussag Group`s tourism activities in its position as an intermediate holding – will be transferred to Preussag AG on 1 January 2001. According to Dr. Frenzel: Our strategic objectives are clearly defined: the highest priority is integrating our European networks to form the leading tourism group in Europe. The main focus of our actions is to permanently enhance the profitability of this business.



Reflecting the further development of Preussag into a tourism management holding, Dr. Ralf Corsten and Charles Gurassa were appointed to the Preussag AG management board with effect from 1 January 2001. In addition, aviation, hotel ownership, hotel procurement and information technology will in future each be centrally managed for the whole of the tourism group.



Leading services group Preussag



The restructured Group encompasses the key tourism business as well as the activities of the transport and logistics group Hapag-Lloyd AG, and the oil and gas business of Preussag Energie. With its new structure in 2002, around 77 per cent of Preussag`s turnover will be generated by tourism, and 21 per cent by logistics. An external turnover of Euro 21 billion is forecast for the financial year just ended. This is split as follows: tourism, 52 per cent, logistics, 16 per cent, industry and trading 32 per cent.

According to Dr. Frenzel: With the course we have now set ourselves, we will successfully be able to create a leading services group of European dimensions based in Hannover. Our investments will also open up additional promising growth markets, such as in the new media.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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