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SPAC Blue World, involving Asia cruise veterans, prices $80m IPO

Article-SPAC Blue World, involving Asia cruise veterans, prices $80m IPO

Trey Hickey, left, and Buhdy Bok bring cruise expertise to the board of Blue World Acquisition Corp.
Blue World Acquisition Corp., a blank check company with Asia cruise veterans on its board, raised $80m by offering 8m units at $10 per unit.

The units began trading today on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol BWAQU.

Targeting marine, cruise opportunities

This special purpose acquisition company plans to target opportunities in the marine leisure, cruise, marine infrastructure and engineering, general hospitality, and travel and tourism segments within the US and Asia Pacific markets.

Cruise veterans Trey Hickey and Buhdy Bok

Among the independent directors are cruise veterans Trey Hickey and Buhdy Bok, who formerly held leadership roles in Asia for Carnival Corp. & plc. 

'There are a lot of distressed assets in the industry at this moment and we are using the capital markets and our Asia market expertise to take advantage of the opportunities,' Hickey told Seatrade Cruise News. 'Some brands are at or near Chapter 11 and other brands are struggling to stand up their entire fleets even by 2023. We are looking at opportunities in both the oceangoing and river segments, amongst others.'

He did not address whether parts of Genting Hong Kong/Crystal Cruises may be of interest. 

Cruise companies wound down Asia operations in the pandemic

Hickey noted that during the pandemic, 'essentially all of the major brands have either wound down or have significantly wound down their Asia operations, particularly their China operations.

'Eventually the tide will turn back to Asia and by that point most brands will have already surrendered their Asian human resources and IP and will find it very difficult to reenter the business from a zero base; surely bringing back the playbooks from 2014 will not work, and so we also see ourselves as being in a niche position to revive the region either with partners or on our own either through asset purchases or other business combinations.'

HIckey's experience

Hickey was SVP international sales at Princess Cruises, Cunard Line, Seabourn and Carnival plc until June 2020, responsible for approximately $4bn in sales. He also acted as Carnival Corp’s chief representative officer in China and president of Carnival Corp. Japan, and served on the boards of Carnival Corp. Taiwan, the Pacific Asia Travel Association and the Asia Cruise Association. Earlier he was in international sales and marketing with Royal Caribbean Group.

Since 2020, Hickey has served as the managing partner at Global Distribution Solutions Pte. Ltd., the parent of Discover River Cruises, a boutique river cruise company operating on the Danube and Rhine.

Bok's credentials

Bok is a former president of Carnival Asia, overseeing Carnival Corp. & plc operations in Asia, and former president of Costa Group Asia, responsible for the company's operations in Asia Pacific and China. Since 2018, he has served as MD of Mount Faber Leisure Group, one of Singapore's largest attractions companies. Earlier Bok held senior roles at NokScoot Airlines, a Thailand-based carrier, and at Singapore Airlines.

Blue World Acquisition is led by Chairman and CEO Liang Shi, a partner at growth capital investment firm Zenin which targets emerging sectors in China, and CFO and Director Tianyong Yan, GM at Shanghai Green Storm Asset Management.

The offering is expected to close Feb. 2. Maxim Group is the sole bookrunner and has a 45-day option to purchase up to 1.2m additional units to cover over-allotments.

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