Apollo Buys Regent Seven Seas Cruises

December 10, 2007

It is official: Regent Seven Seas Cruises has been purchased by Apollo Management L.P., a private equity firm based in Purchase, New York, which invests heavily in hotel organizations and has recently forayed into the cruise area by snapping up Oceania and half of NCL. Apollo purchased the cruise line from its current owner, Minneapolis-based Carlson Hospitality Worldwide, one of the travel industry's largest hospitality companies.

Rumors of an impending acquisition have been rampant leading up to today's announcement; as we reported in November, cfo.com stated over a month ago that Apollo had won an auction to acquire Regent from Carlson, though we were unable to confirm that information with Regent spokespersons at that time.

Interestingly, now that the deal's sealed (subject to regulatory approval), we've also learned that the news impacts recent acquisition Oceania. That's because Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania will both be placed under the ownership of Prestige Cruise Holdings, Inc. (PCH), a newly formed corporation controlled by Apollo which will manage certain cruise portfolio assets. (NCL, meanwhile, will remain a separate holding outside of PCH.)

However, Oceania and Regent will remain independent and separate brands. Mark Conroy will remain president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which will continue to operate from its Ft. Lauderdale headquarters; Oceania Cruises will remain in Miami, headed by President Bob Binder. Both Binder and Conroy will report directly to Frank Del Rio, who's been named chairman and CEO of PCH. Del Rio, who's served as chairman and CEO of Oceania to this point, will assume the same title with Regent by default as both lines are now owned by PCH.

According to a company statement, the transaction between Apollo and Carlson is part of a strategy to "expand their respective core cruise and hotel operations"; Carlson will retain ownership of the master Regent brand, along with the worldwide operations of Regent Hotels & Resorts.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2008, according to the statement. The financial details of the sale were not released to the public.

Regent was formed in 1992 as a result of the merger between two one-ship lines -- Radisson Cruises and Seven Seas Cruises (both ships have since been retired). Since then, the line has grown steadily, adding Paul Gauguin in 1997, Seven Seas Navigator in 1999, Seven Seas Mariner in 2001 and Seven Seas Voyager in 2003. The cruise line was re-branded last year as Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor