No deal yet for TUI Travel’s acquisition of Russian Yuzhny Krest


MOSCOW, Russia – TUI Travel PLC’s Russian unit isn’t close to a deal to acquire Moscow-based tour operator Yuzhny Krest, a person close to Yuzhny Krest said Monday.

Russian daily Kommersant reported earlier Monday that TUI’s Russian joint venture was in talks with Yuzhny Krest, which had revenue of $125 million in 2009, compared to $469 million for TUI Russia & CIS.

A spokeswoman for TUI Travel in Russia was unavailable to comment.

TUI Travel, which is controlled by German holding company TUI AG, launched its Russian brand March 2. Tui Russia is a joint venture, in which tycoon Alexei Mordashov’s S-Group holds a 51% stake.

The Russian travel market is considered by industry watchers as potentially lucrative as European countries become more relaxed about handing out travel visas to Russians.

In 2008, some 11.3 million Russians traveled abroad, up from the 9.4 million in 2007 and 5.1 million in 2002.

TUI’s smaller rival Thomas Cook Group PLC has said it is in the final stage of a deal to enter the Russian market.