THOMAS Cook has confirmed that it is talks with Chinese conglomerate Fosun regarding the potential sale of its tour operator business.

It follows reports over the weekend that Fosun, Thomas Cook's largest shareholder, was eyeing up a deal, paving the way for the complete break-up of the British travel company.

Thomas Cook said it is in discussions with Fosun, which also owns the Club Med brand, following a preliminary approach, although there is "no certainty" this will result in a formal offer.

Shares in Thomas Cook jumped by 22% in early trading following news of interest from the Chinese firm, which also owns Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club.

Thomas Cook has been grappling with a decline in bookings and uncertainty surrounding Brexit, which it said contributed to the £1.5 billion half-year loss it posted last month.

It is understood that any deal with Fosun would not include Thomas Cook's airline arm, due to European Union rules.

The travel company has been looking to offload it airline division since the start of this year, confirming a deadline for bids last month.

It also said last month that it had received an offer for its Scandinavian arm from private equity company Triton Partners and was evaluating the offer.

Thomas Cook is slashing costs in the second half of its financial year in the face of tough trading and higher fuel expenses, including axing 150 roles from its head office in Peterborough.

Shares in Thomas Cook have plunged by more than 80% over the past 12 months.

Ocado has announced a pair of major investment deals to expand into vertical farming.

The retail technology firm has bought a majority stake in Scunthorpe-based Jones Food Company, Europe's largest operating vertical farm.

It has also entered a three-way joint venture called Infinite Acres with 80 Acre Farms and Priva Holdings to create technology solutions for companies in the fast-growing vertical farming industry.

Vertical farming involves the production of food in indoor facilities where crops are planted on a series of levels so that they can be densely and efficiently produced.

The method has surged in popularity due to its sustainability benefits, which include low wastage, the use of less water and the need for much smaller areas of land.

Ocado said it has invested £17 million in the two deals.

Neil Woodford's listed business has said it is "pleased" with the progress of its portfolio companies, despite a dive in its share price after the renowned stock-picker suspended one of his funds.

Woodford Patient Capital Trust said it does not believe the operational performance of the portfolio businesses have been "impacted" by recent events.

Last week, Mr Woodford stopped people taking their money out of the Woodford Equity Income Fund.

The City heavyweight suffered a nightmare week after suspending the fund "to protect investors' interests" after they withdrew around £560 million from it over the previous four weeks.