Saudi fund in early talks to potentially buy Carnival’s ultra-luxury Seabourn brand

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  • Carnival is in preliminary discussions to sell its Seabourn luxury cruise brand to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, people familiar with the situation told CNBC.
  • Negotiations are still on between the two sides. A deal of this size would give the Saudis a stronger footprint in the cruise industry, at a time when travel continues across the Middle East.

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Carnival is in preliminary discussions to sell its Seabourn ultra-luxury cruise brand to the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund, people familiar with the situation told CNBC.

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Negotiations are still on between the two sides. A deal of this size would give the Saudis a stronger footprint in the cruise industry, at a time when travel continues across the Middle East.

This would give Carnival access to more capital, after shares have fallen more than 40% in the past three months. The price tag for the Seabourn wasn’t immediately apparent.

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Carnival said it would not comment on rumor or speculation. The Saudi Fund, also known as the Public Investment Fund, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Negotiations to sell Seabourn come less than a week after Carnival raised more than $1 billion at a 10% yield on the debt market.

Seabourn came to market in 1988 and operates six ships. Its destinations extend from Antarctica to the Middle East to the Caribbean.

The Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund, also known as the Public Investment Fund, bought a stake in Carnival in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. It currently holds a 5.1% stake in Carnival, according to FactSet.

Private equity firms have also been buyers in the cruise space. In March 2021, Royal Caribbean sold its Azamara Cruises brand to Sycamore Partners for $201 million. TPG and Apollo Group both invested billions in Norwegian Cruise Line in 2008, eventually taking the cruise operator public in 2013. TPG is currently invested in Viking Cruises, while Bain Capital is Virgin Voyage’s main investor.

Credit: www.cnbc.com /

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