The cruise industry woke up to some pretty big news today. It was a shocker for many. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has agreed to buy a 66.7 percent stake in Silversea Cruises, the tony independent cruise line that operates intimate luxury and expedition ships designed for discerning travelers.
While the news surprised many, some industry insiders were anticipating this would happen. The family owned and operated Silversea was ripe for a takeover, especially with two new ship builds on the horizon.
For Royal Caribbean, Silversea adds a crown jewel in the luxury market, going up against Norwegian Cruise Line's Regent Seven Seas and the smaller Seabourn, owned by Carnival Corp.
“Silversea is a crown jewel, and the acknowledged leader in luxury and expedition cruising, two key markets that are poised for growth,” Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said in a statement. “Uniting our two companies presents an extraordinary opportunity to expand vacation options for guests and create revenue in strategic growth areas.”
Manfredi Lefebvre, executive chairman of Silversea, will continue to guide the Silversea's long-term strategy, Fain said.
“This partnership will bolster the growth of this exceptional brand founded by my father," Lefebvre said. “This new partnership gives Silversea the opportunity to accelerate the growth of the most successful luxury and expedition cruising brand in the world.”
The strategic rationale for the partnership includes:
- Driving long-term capacity growth in the burgeoning luxury and expedition segments at a much larger scale than what Silversea would achieve independently;
- Diversifying Royal Caribbean's portfolio and increasing its expedition offerings by adding a premier ultra-luxury brand;
- Leveraging the global footprint of the combined companies to generate demand and increase vacation and destination options for the guests of both companies;
- Realizing significant synergies related to global market access, supply chain, purchasing power and other economies of scale.
Lefebvre said he is confident that the significant investment stake he is retaining will sizably increase its value through the growth this long-term partnership will enable.
Lefebvre and Fain also confirmed that Silversea's CEO Roberto Martinoli will continue in his role, working with the existing Silversea management team.
Silversea's sterling fleet covers the world sailing to more than 1,000 global destinations. The luxury expedition vessels add a pioneering ultra-luxury brand to RCL’s industry-leading brand lineup. RCL's largest brand, Royal Caribbean International, is a contemporary brand focused on adventure-seeking families, Celebrity Cruises is a premium brand providing a modern luxury experience to discerning global travelers, and Azamara Club Cruises is a destination immersive brand offering luxury voyages to unique ports. The company also operates the regional TUI Cruises and Pullmantur brands as part of long-term joint ventures.
Royal Caribbean's stake has an enterprise value of about $2 billion; the purchase price of the equity being acquired is about $1 billion. RCL plans to finance the purchase through debt. The closing is expected to be completed later in the year, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval.