Cunard Shakeup

Is it the beginning of end for Cunard Line? It may seem that way when the Chairman and CEO, Peter Ward, suddenly resigns, before getting his turn-around program underway.

According to Cunard’s owner, the Norwegian Kvaerner Group, Ward’s tenure was all along intended to be temporary. But that temporary?

Ward bad headed the company for only a year when he “decided to return to London to pursue other interests.”

Appointed as the new chairman of Cunard was Antti Pankakoski, Senior Vice President of Kvaerner’s shipbuilding division in Finland. After 16 years in the shipbuilding industry, Pankakoski officially begins at Cunard Nov. 1.

During his time at Cunard, Ward championed a plan to focus the line on the luxury market, and Kvaerner CEO Erik Tonseth stressed that this focus would continue, maintaining, “The group is fully supportive of Cunard’s objectives to refocus the company’s activities in the luxury cruise market.”

But Ward’s resignation spurred speculation that major, yet-to-be-announced changes were brewing within Cunard.

Overseas speculations have Kvaerner selling Cunard on the condition that the new owner will order more ships at Kvaerner Masa-Yards. That would help Kvaerner get out of the cruise business, where it does not want to be, and it would help its cruise ship building yard in Finland. Hence, it makes sense and Kvaerner executives are not talking.

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