July 22, 2002
Speculation is running rampant that the European Union will unequivocally offer approval for Carnival Corporation’s proposed acquisition of P&O Princess Cruises. The decision could be handed down as early as this week. What’s interesting about this is that three months ago the European Union regulators said they had serious concerns about the deal -- and then launched the current investigation into whether or not the deal would constitute too much of a cruise monopoly in the European marketplace. At one point, word was that Carnival would have to divest itself of one of its European/U.K-based cruise lines, which in itself caused quite a flurry of chatter that it would relinquish Cunard. That rumor was quickly dispelled.
In the latest speculation, however, the word is that Carnival will get blanket approval and will not have to sell off a cruise line.
Royal Caribbean, which is also vying for P&O Princess, did not have to subject its proposition to European Union regulators because there weren’t the same monopolistic concerns. That deal did, however, receive clearance from both German and British regulators.
Once the EU makes its official decision, the next big, in fact biggest, hurdle is the United States’ Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is currently studying the two proposed deals.