Fri, 05 Jun 2020

Saudi Arabia takes strategic stake in global cruise lines

Lola Evans
09 Apr 2020, 00:44 GMT+10

MIAMI, Florida - Saudi Arabia is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the global cruising industry.

The Saudi sovereign wealth fund has taken an 8.2% strategic interest in Carnival Corp., the world's largest leisure travel company which owns nine of the world's leading cruise lines. The group's operations in North America, Australia, Europe and Asia, include Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn, P&O Cruises (Australia), Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises, P&O Cruises (UK) and Cunard.

With the share price down about 70% from it's peak, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund has been able to buy into one of the world's must lucrative tourism sector at an opportune time. While cruises across the world have come to a standstill, until the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry was soaring with passengers numbers growing at an astonishing rate.

The vote of confidence from the Saudis, with their purchase of 43.5 million shares, lifted Carnival's stock price by more than 20% on Monday. Another 10% was added on Tuesday, giving the new shareholder a phenomenal return in a matter of days.

Carnival, which is headquartered in Miami, Florida, has been busily engaging in capital raisings and has assured the market it is in a position to ride out the pandemic, but has issued a note of caution.

"We cannot assure you that our assumptions used to estimate our liquidity requirements will be correct because we have never previously experienced a complete cessation of our cruising operations, and as a consequence, our ability to be predictive is uncertain. In addition, the magnitude, duration and speed of the global pandemic is uncertain," a company statement said.

Carnival is in the process of raising around $6 billion in ordinary stock and convertible notes.

(File photo. Credit: The National).

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