Carnival Corp. is considering selling its luxury Seabourn cruise line to
the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, according to a CNBC report.
report, citing unnamed sources, said that Carnival was in "preliminary
discussions" to sell Seabourn. It said that the deal would give the
Saudis a "stronger footprint" in the cruise industry while also giving
Carnival access to more capital.
Carnival may also want to pare down debt. Last week, Carnival Corp.
priced a private debt offering of US$1 billion in senior unsecured notes
at an interest rate of 10.5%. The proceeds will be used in fiscal 2023
to make scheduled principal payments on prior debt.
Before this latest debt issue, Carnival Corp. was carrying about US$35 billion in total debt.
Regarding the CNBC report, a spokesman for Carnival Corp. said the company would not comment on "rumours and speculation."
The Saudi fund, known as the Public Investment Fund, acquired an 8.2%
stake in Carnival Corp. at the beginning of the pandemic (the CNBC
report, citing FactSet, puts its current stake at 5.1%).
Saudi Arabia has plans to move aggressively into tourism, earmarking
US$1 trillion for the travel and tourism sector through 2030. And the
kingdom appears to be eager to get more involved with cruising. It has
established Cruise Saudi, a publicly funded effort to develop ports,
destinations and excursion options to attract more ships to the Red Sea
and Persian Gulf.
An executive at Cruise Saudi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Seabourn currently has five ships, plus two expedition vessels under development for delivery this year and next.