UPDATE: The deal was confirmed at the start of financial business in New York today (Tuesday).
Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer said: “The acquisition of Prestige represents an extraordinary opportunity for Norwegian Cruise Line to expand our market presence by adding two established, award-winning brands in the upscale cruise segment with loyal followings.
“Not only does this acquisition immediately enhance our financial performance, but it also deepens the bench of talent that we have been developing over the years.”
Frank Del Rio, chairman and chief executive of Prestige added: “We are excited to become part of the Norwegian family and start a new chapter for our company. The combination is very compelling and will allow us to further enhance our renowned guest experience.”
Norwegian Cruise Line is reported to be close to taking over the company which operates the luxury brands Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania in a deal worth $3 billion (£1.8 billion).
Although there is no official comment from either side, Reuters claims that “people familiar with the matter” say a deal could be announced this week.
At the moment, Norwegian operates 13 family-friendly ships ranging in size from the 2,000-passenger Norwegian Spirit to the 4,000-plus passenger Norwegian Epic (above). Total passenger capacity is more than 34,600. The company’s next new ship, Norwegian Escape, is due to launch next autumn.
Regent and Oceania are operated by parent company Prestige Cruise Holdings; together, they have eight ships in the luxury sector of the market. A combined company would be better placed to compete with Norwegian’s larger rivals, Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, both of which have luxury brands under their umbrellas.
Regent’s three small ships have a combined passenger capacity of just 1,916; a fourth vessel is on order. Oceania’s five ships carry up to 4,600 passengers.
Prestige’s majority shareholder – since an $850 million deal in 2007 – is private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which also has a 20 per cent stake in Norwegian.
Norwegian has a market value of $6.8 billion, and revenues of $2.57 billion in 2013 – an increase of 13 per cent on 2012. Prestige’s 2013 revenues were $1.2 billion, up 6 per cent on the previous year.