P&O Cruise Division Sees Strong Trading, Advances Plans For U.S Listing Next Year

Friday, December 17, 1999
The cruise arm of Peninsula and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. continues to experience excellent trading conditions, with total capacity up 14 percent this year, company officials said. P&O officials said the cruises division was fully booked at yields consistent on a like-for-like basis with last year's high levels. The outlook for the division next year is "highly positive," with capacity seen increasing by 21 percent, booking 70 percent full for the first half, and yields again good. "We are ending the year on a positive note with all of our core divisions performing well," Chairman Lord Sterling said. "We expect to achieve further significant progress in the first half of 2000". In the ports and logistics arm, worldwide container terminal throughput was expected to approach six million teu, up from four million last year and with a further two million increase expected next year. P&O said Anglo-Dutch container shipping company P&O Nedlloyd - its joint venture with Koninklijke Nedloyds - had seen further improvement since the end of the third quarter and it was pressing ahead with its cost reduction program. Last month, P&O Nedlloyd reported third quarter operating profits of $16 million and said its cost-cutting measures would yield annual savings of more than $100 million by end-2000. P&O officials also said most of the company's remaining investment property will be sold in the first half of next year - which is ahead of the company's original timetable. Plans Set For U.S. Listing P&O also said plans were well advanced for its U.S. listing next year. Chairman Lord Sterling said that a listing would be sought in the summer or early autumn, once the group's disposal program had been completed. The group is in the middle of a disposal process with the aim of refocusing the business on its seagoing heritage, with more than $811 million of sales agreed since March. The proceeds from the entire disposal program are expected to reach around $2 billion, and Lord Sterling said the program "would be substantially done by March". Sterling said once the disposal plan was complete, the group will be able to present a more focused company to U.S. investors, who have already shown good interest.
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