Carnival and POC Set to Merge?

Carnival Corporation won the first round in the battle for P&O Princess Cruises (POC) when 62.5 percent of the POC shareholders present at the Feb. 14 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) voted to adjourn the meeting to allow time to study Carnival’s latest bid.

The EGM had originally been called for POC shareholders to vote on the proposed merger with Royal Caribbean Cruises, which would have required 75 percent of the votes cast to be approved.

Fifteen percent of the votes present were required to put an adjournment proposal to the floor and 50 percent were required to pass the proposal.

Since RCC and POC announced their planned merger in November, Carnival has made four counter offers, all of which had been rebuffed by POC’s management and board of directors. However, POC admitted that Carnival’s latest bid at 550 pence for each POC share was at least “realistic pricing.”

At press time, RCC’s intentions were unknown. RCC chairman Richard Fain has previously been quoted as saying that if the merger was not approved at the EGM, there will be no merger.

However, it is commonly believed that the Carnival takeover carries tougher regulatory hurdles than the RCC deal. Thus, in the end there may be no merger and no acquisition, and Carnival will continue to be the largest cruise company in the world.

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