Fosun is interested in buying the tour operator but cannot buy the airline business owing to European regulationsPaul Hanna/Reuters

Thomas Cook confirmed this morning that it had received a bid approach from the Chinese conglomerate Fosun International, its biggest shareholder, although it emphasised that various other strategic options remained on the table.

The Times understands that Thomas Cook has received between seven and ten preliminary offers for at least part of the travel company, including one from an undisclosed private equity firm. Fosun is precluded by European ownership rules from owning the airline.

In a statement today the 178-year-old travel group said that it noted reports “regarding a potential offer for its tour operator business from Fosun International”, adding: “Thomas Cook confirms that it is in discussions with Fosun following receipt of a preliminary approach.”

However, it emphasised that “there can be no certainty…