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

Thomas Cook could fall into Chinese ownership after the troubled travel group confirmed that it has received an approach from Fosun International for its tour operator business.

Thomas Cook is understood to have received between seven and ten preliminary offers for some or all of the company, including one from an undisclosed private equity firm.

Fosun, which is Thomas Cook’s biggest shareholder, is interested in its tour operator business. It is precluded by European ownership rules from owning the airline.

In a statement to the stock market yesterday, Thomas Cook said that it was in talks with Fosun after an approach. The company added: “There can be no certainty that this approach will result in a formal offer. However, the board will consider any potential…