The European Commission
in Brussels announced the clearance of the proposed combination of P&O Princess and Carnival. The EC's decision concludes that the proposed concentration would not lead to the creation of dominant positions which might impede effective competition in any European markets. The decision reflects the ease with which new operators can enter into or expand cruise operations and the rapid growth of the UK and German markets forecast for the coming years.
"We are obviously very pleased with the conclusions reached by the European Commission," said Micky Arison, Chairman and Chief Executive of Carnival. "The Commission undertook an in-depth review of the proposed transaction, hearing arguments from all parties. While the process was nerve-racking at times, the Commission's thorough analysis of the large amount of material and submissions resulted in the right outcome. This decision is consistent with the national competition authorities' views reached in Germany and the U.K. on the proposed P&O Princess/Royal Caribbean combination.
We hope that in light of our clearance in Europe, P&O Princess will now meet with us as soon as possible. We clearly have the superior financial proposal and today's news confirms what we have indicated all along: that both transactions are similarly situated and equally deliverable from a regulatory perspective."
Both combinations also remain under review by the Federal Trade Commission in the US. A decision is expected for both transactions on a similar timetable, which Carnival believes will not be before mid-September.
Terms used in this announcement have the same meaning as in the announcement dated February 7, 2002.