The Norwegian ship owner Color Line AS and Kvaerner Masa-Yards have agreed to extend the validity of their letter of intent signed in July 2002. The signing of the final contract has been delayed because the financing of the vessel is pending the outcome of the Norwegian budget proposal of October 3, 2002. The key outstanding issue is required material changes in the net wage scheme for Norwegian seamen, which are
already in effect in other Nordic and European countries.
According to the letter of intent Color Line shall
purchase and Kvaerner Masa-Yards shall design, build and deliver one cruise passenger ferry of about 74 500 gross tonnes.
The extended letter of intent is subject to finalisation of the financing, which Color Line is confident will be arranged if Stortinget (the Norwegian Parliament) and the Norwegian Government approve a long-term net wage scheme
similar to the system in Sweden or Denmark. The vessel could start operation under Norwegian flag for the Christmas season 2004.
The parties have agreed on the general arrangements and specifications of the vessel. The value of the vessel is about EUR 300 million. The letter of intent includes also a buyer's option to purchase one sister vessel. Color
Line and Kvaerner Masa-Yards continue to work on an exclusive basis towards signing the final shipbuilding contract by December 16, 2002.
"We are happy to have concluded this agreement with Kvaerner Masa-Yards for a future oriented and outstanding cruise product on competitive terms," says
Trond Kleivdal, President of Color Line AS.
"We are satisfied with this agreement with Color Line in the difficult market conditions of today and are pleased that Color Line has confirmed its
intention to take delivery of this new cruise passenger ferry in 2004," states Jorma Eloranta, President & CEO of Kvaerner Masa-Yards.