January 10, 2002
Carnival’s much ballyhooed “letter” to P&O Princess this week had the sizzle of a barbecue in a monsoon. The letter, requesting a meeting with P&O Princess top executives to discuss its hostile acquisition bid, was brushed aside because Carnival, which has offered $4.6 billion for the company, didn’t come up with the cash to make its offer more palatable to shareholders. However, P&O Princess’ Peter Ratcliffe did say his pledge -- to leave the door open to Carnival should the current “world’s largest cruise line” want to up the financial ante -- as long as that offer came through no later than January 18. In the meantime, P&O Princess’ planned merger with Royal Caribbean continues to move forward through the rocks and shoals of the regulatory process. Even though British regulators announced earlier this week they needed more time, the German government has signed off on the merger. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has begun its investigation, according to Royal Caribbean’s Richard Fain. Standard procedure, the FTC, Fain says, could take some four to six months to probe the proposed deal.