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London private equity firm is buying A-Rosa

(Photo: Neptun Werft)
Neptun Werft launched a new style of river vessel for A-Rosa in 2000
London-based Duke Street Private Equity is set to acquire a majority stake in A-Rosa Flussschiff from Waterland Private Equity Investments, pending antitrust agency approval. Terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Waterland took a majority stake in A-Rosa in 2009 and contributed significantly to the company's expansion, according to A-Rosa CEO Jörg Eichler. Under Waterland, the fleet grew from six to 11 vessels.

German river industry insiders see the ownership change as another step on A-Rosa's road to a major fleet revamp. Talk of plans for a new generation of ships began circulating in the German travel market last spring, with Eichler confirming the operator was indeed looking for additional capacity.

Eichler said A-Rosa seeks a design incorporating more and larger cabins, additional entertainment options and restaurants, as well as a dedicated family area in order to appeal to new audiences and, perhaps, serve new destinations.

Talks have been under way between A-Rosa and Neptun Werft, which have a long-standing partnership since 2000 when the shipyard, part of the Meyer Group, re-entered the newbuilding sector. Neptun's first reference—and a breakthrough in the river segment—were four A-Rosa vessels for the Danube River.

A-Rosa's new owner, Duke Street, could be a suitable partner to support the operator—which mainly serves the German-speaking source markets—on its further expansion course.