SHARES in troubled travel business Thomas Cook closed 17 per cent up yesterday after soaring on the news that Chinese firm Fosun International had made a bid for its tour operator arm.

The company, which last month blamed uncertainty around Brexit for a £1.5 billion loss in the six months to the end of May, confirmed that is “in discussions with Fosun following receipt of a preliminary approach”.

The Shanghai-based conglomerate is already the largest shareholder in the Thomas Cook Group.

“There can be no certainty that this approach will result in a formal offer,” Thomas Cook said in an announcement to the Stock Exchange.

“However, the board will consider any potential offer alongside the other strategic options that it has, with the aim of maximising value for all its stakeholders.”

Shares in the business, which plummeted by 30 per cent in one day last month after Citigroup analysts labelled them “worthless”, closed at 18.9p yesterday up from 16.1p on Friday.

Despite the rise, the company’s share price is now 83% lower than it was a year ago and 88% lower than it as five years ago.

Thomas Cook’s tour operator business is by far the largest part of the overall group, which also includes an airline, accounting for £7.4bn of the group’s £9.6bn turnover in 2018.

The company is already in the process of trying to offload its airline business and last month revealed that it had received a takeover approach for its Nordic operations from private equity group Triton.

It noted at the time that it had received “multiple bids, including for the whole, and parts, of the airline business”, all of which its board would be considering.