London — Travel group Thomas Cook says it is willing to sell its profitable airline business to raise cash and fund its fightback from a torrid 2018 and signs of a tough year ahead. The world’s oldest travel company stumbled badly in 2018 when a heatwave in northern Europe deterred holidaymakers from booking lucrative last-minute deals, leading to two major profit warnings and talk of a need to raise funds. The British group, which had a market valuation of £540m and net debt of £1.6bn, said rather than launch a rights issue it will consider all options for the most successful part of the business. “Thomas Cook doesn’t need to own an airline outright to be a successful holiday company, so long as we retain a strong relationship to provide our customers with the … service they need for their journey,” CEO Peter Fankhauser said. A sale would enable the company to invest more in its own hotels, improve its digital sales offering and drive further cost savings. Its airline, which fared ...

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