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Articles from 2002 In January


Road show

Road show

Next stop: London. Royal Caribbean chairman and ceo Richard Fain earlier this week brushed off Carnival's new all-shares bid as more of the same. But some analysts say the deal has been improved.

Jim Winchester of Lazard Freres notes the latest proposal removes the 'subject to financing' precondition. 'CCL's offer now appears comparable to Royal Caribbean's combination offer, considering that both deals are subject only to antitrust regulatory clearance,' he writes in new research. Winchester thinks Carnival's revised proposal has a slightly higher chance of gaining POC shareholder support (15%-20% vs. 10% previously). 'However, we sense that there is more at play than pure economic logic, with P&O Princess holders appearing to wish to "support" management's preference for the RCL offer. In addition, we have seldom seen traditional pension fund managers willing to take a stand that is counter to board recommendations - even when it may be in their own interest.'

'We believe Carnival is back in the game,' writes Jason Ader of Bear Stearns, cautioning that as with the RCL-POC combo, regulatory approval is still needed. Ader predicts a key component of Carnival's pitch to shareholders will relate to synergies. 'Royal and Princess have indicated that in the first full year of combined operation, the new company should be able to achieve approximately $100m in cost efficiencies from the deal. We think it's important to point out that while a larger portfolio of ships and brands provides the opportunity for increased cost efficiencies, there is risk of execution and that the savings don't necessarily come automatically.'

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Carnival addresses EGM adjournment

Carnival addresses EGM adjournment

Carnival's advisers say POC shareholders can adjourn the meeting without losing the Royal Caribbean proposal or triggering the break fee. 'If shareholders vote to adjourn, Royal Caribbean cannot abandon its proposal unless it is prepared to breach its agreement with P&O Princess. For the P&O Princess board to suggest anything to the contrary is a disservice to their shareholders,' said Carnival chairman and ceo Micky Arison. A Royal Caribbean spokeswoman told Seatrade Insider the company had not had a chance to review the Carnival letter, but a response was not anticipated.

Carnival cited advice by Herbert Smith and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison as well as an independent opinion by the US firm of Shearman & Sterling, which it included in its letter. Carnival said that if P&O shareholders vote to adjourn, Royal Caribbean cannot walk away from its proposal unless it is prepared to pay an estimated $62.5m in break damages. Carnival also detailed the procedure for executing an adjournment.

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Fain optimistic after POC shareholder meetings

Fain optimistic after POC shareholder meetings

He told Reuters there today 'It's gone very well. Feedback's been very good,' referring to meetings with more than 20 POC shareholders. 'I'm taking an earlier flight home than expected.' That means Fain won't cross paths with Carnival chairman and ceo Micky Arison, who's wrapping up meetings in New York and Boston before heading to London next week.

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HAL will send record 7 ships to Alaska in apos;03

HAL will send record 7 ships to Alaska in apos;03

In the 49th state, HAL will offer 135 cruises, including new, longer voyages of 10 and 11 days from Seattle. In all, the 12-ship fleet will offer 449 cruises from three to 108 days visiting seven continents.

The 1,848-passenger Zuiderdam, entering service this December as HAL's year-round Caribbean ship, will sail from Port Everglades on week-long Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. Sister Oosterdam debuts in July next year from Venice on the first of a series of 12-day summer and autumn Western Med and Baltic Cruises. The Prinsendam (ex Seabourn Sun) continues its inaugural season of exotic cruises of 14 to 22 days from January to September in Australia/New Zealand, Southeast Asia, the Far East, Africa, Western Europe and the Baltic. In late September, the 794-passenger ship sails on a new 25-day cruise from Lisbon to San Diego, then embarks on a new 35-day South America/South Pacific cruise from San Diego to Auckland, ending the year with three 16-day Auckland-Sydney cruises. The 1,380-passenger Amsterdam will operate the line's 108-day world cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles.

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ROC refutes Greek flag switch

ROC refutes Greek flag switch

'The Greek flag is part of the company's history and we want it to remain so. But it has become imperative we cut costs to remain competitive. The Greek flag is expensive,' said ROC co-chairman Andreas Potamianos. He strongly denied a decision has already been taken but the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation said it believed ships were to be switched.

Potamianos said cruise ship operators have warned the government and seafarers that changing to another European flag would make Greek cruise ships more competitive. 'We can no longer operate with triple the costs of other European flags. All we are asking is that Greek law be harmonised with that of other EU countries.'

As president of the Greek Shipowners Association for Passenger Ships, Potamianos is leading discussions with crew for a new collective working agreement, and said it has to be understood by all 'just how dramatically conditions have changed since September 11.' Seafarers are seeking a 6% increase in basic pay.ROC ceo, Yiannis Pantazis said no decision has yet been made regarding the Olympia Explorer but did say the Greek and Gibraltar flags are under consideration.A statement signed by John Halas, general secretary of the seamen's body says such a move will be painful for hundreds of Greeks and their families. It says: 'We strongly state the PNO is determined to safeguard seafarers positions on your ships and will do all in their power, using all means available inside and outside Greece, to dissuade you from taking this course.'

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Carnival ups the ante again

Carnival ups the ante again

3 cruise company at £3.6bn ($5.1bn). The new bid of 515 pence per share tops the earlier 500p cash and shares offer. Carnival also will offer a partial cash alternative of 250p per POC share. In addition, the company said it restructured its original offer to avoid triggering the change-of-control poison pills associated with the RCL-POC Southern Europe joint venture.

'Recent developments demonstrate that the Royal Caribbean proposal is far from being "a bird in the hand," said Carnival chairman and ceo Micky Arison, referring to the UK government's decision to send the RCL-POC merger to the Competition Commission for review. 'Our revised offer is significantly more valuable than the Royal Caribbean proposal. We also believe we have addressed shareholders' concerns about the conditionality and deliverability of our original offer.'

Carnival again urged POC shareholders to vote to adjourn the February 14 egm. Arison said he had been advised the shareholders could do so without giving Royal Caribbean the right to walk.

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RCL brushes off latest Carnival offer

RCL brushes off latest Carnival offer

'This latest in a series of repackaged pre-conditional offers from Carnival was only too predictable. They have rearranged the small print but made no real difference to the big picture,' Fain remarked in a statement. So far, P&O Princess has not answered Carnival's latest overture, which was addressed to shareholders (not the board), but said it would respond in due course.

Carnival's new offer of 0.2684 CCL shares for each Princess share or a partial cash alternative of 250 pence surpasses its earlier bid of 250p cash and 0.1380 of its shares for the No. 3 line. It also removes some pre-conditions. The earlier bid was worth 500p per share at the time, but Carnival's stock has inched up, improving the offer's value. Today's, the third and latest bid, was based on Carnival's Tuesday share price of $27.05 in New York.

All Big Three stocks closed down today, with Carnival off 1.81% at $26.56, RCL down 2.73% at $18.19 and POC down .22% at $22.55. Reuters in London quoted Jupiter Asset Management's fund manager as dismissing the improved Carnival offer. 'If Carnival is trying to win the day, they simply have to offer a higher percentage of cash, and that just hasn't been forthcoming,' said Tony Nutt. Jupiter owns about 3.5% of P&O Princess, making it among the largest shareholders. Nutt had previously told Reuters that nothing less than 600p per share would turn his head.

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Norfolk names cruise marketing manager

Norfolk names cruise marketing manager

'Norfolk's historic relationship with the sea makes this port an easy and convenient stop for cruise companies and a memorable one for cruise passengers,' Kirkland said.

Norfolk's newly renovated pier adjoins Nauticus, The National Maritime Centre and the USS Wisconsin, two major local attractions. Additional cultural and historic sites plus dining and shopping are within walking distance. The Norfolk City Council invested $2m last year to extend the Nauticus pier and install mooring tie-downs to accommodate the world's largest cruise ships. The city also received a $500,000 grant to help build a federal inspection station at Nauticus to handle customs, immigration and agriculture screening. Two dozen ships called during the 2001 inaugural season from lines such as Holland America, Norwegian, Carnival, Silversea and Regal.

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Micato sees rebound in safari bookings

Micato sees rebound in safari bookings

The Nairobi-based company's New York office reports the flow of bookings since the new year 'is more than making up for the drop in demand that immediately followed the events of September 11.' Micato's sales volume is running 6% ahead of the same period last year.

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Clipper sees strong wave period

Clipper sees strong wave period

But everything changed in the New Year. 'Our bookings have consistently been 20% above week on week over the prior year,' he tells Seatrade Insider. The Clipper chief attributes the turnaround to a combination of the normal wave season bookings spike on top of a psychological shift over the holidays, when he surmises Americans reached the decision that they won't stay home any longer and are going to start traveling again.

While mainstream cruise operators have redeployed ships closer to North American shores, Clipper's four-vessel fleet continues to feature exotic destinations (though its US-flagged Nantucket and Yorktown Clipper routinely offer coastal and inland waterways trips as well). Coghlan says the sole change has been the decision to pull out of the Philippines in April due to concerns for passenger safety. Clipper substituted two Japan itineraries on the 128-passenger Odyssey, a pair of 11- and 12-night voyages that don't duplicate ports and can be combined for what Coghlan calls 'the complete Japan trip.' Three additional Japan cruises were already set for August and September.

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