As was predicted in December, the Brussels-based European Commission, which had been re-reviewing the proposed Carnival acquisition-merger of P&O Princess, has announced unconditional clearance for the deal. According to a statement from P&O Princess, “this clearance, together with the approval given by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on 4 October 2002, means that all antitrust consents required for the DLC transaction have now been obtained.”
The most recent European Commission review was strictly a formality since the actual structure of the deal, from an outright acquisition to a dual-listed-company agreement, has changed since they first received European Union approval.
Next step? There's one more “official government” review still pending. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is also reviewing the proposed deal -- for the first time -- because of its new format as a dual-listed structure, which is unusual on American shores. A Carnival spokesman anticipates that decision will be handed down in the next month and doesn't expect any problems.
The final step will be the final vote. That comes at shareholder meetings for both companies, which at this point are slated for an early-to-mid April time frame. With approval, the final deal-closing -- in which companies will sign final documents -- is anticipated to occur in April.