The Spanish Antitrust Authority has granted official approval to the acquisition of sole control by Costa Crociere S.p.A. of Iberocruceros, a brand operating in the Spanish market.
The operation was first announced on May 29 this year following the signing of an agreement between Costa Crociere S.p.A. and the leading Spanish tour operator Orizonia. Now, following the go-ahead from the antitrust authority, the deal is to be completed during July 2009.
Iberocruceros was established in 2007 as a joint venture between the Costa Crociere Group, which owned 75% of the company, and Orizonia, which had a 25% stake. Through its acquisition of the remaining 25% of the capital, Costa Crociere S.p.A. now is the only shareholder of Iberocruceros.
The European Cruise Council (ECC) reported that in 2008 the cruise industry generated direct expenditure in Spain amounting to approximately $1.4b, 10% more than the year before. Spain is Europe’s third most popular cruise destination with around 3.6 million transit passengers in the nation’s ports, and the second busiest in Europe in terms of departing cruisers, with 1 million passenger movements. In 2008 about 500,000 Spaniards went on a cruise holiday (+27% compared to 2006), while the number of people employed in the industry was in excess of 22,000 (up 18% on 2007).
The importance of the role played by the Iberocruceros brand in the consolidation of the Costa Group’s position in the Spanish market was also underlined last October when the Italian company Costa Cruises’ Senior Vice President Sales & Commercial Mario Martini was co-opted onto the Board of Directors of the Spanish cruise line and appointed to the position of Chief Operating Officer.
Iberocruceros is headquartered in Madrid and currently has a fleet of three ships – the Grand Mistral, Grand Voyager and Grand Celebration – with a combined total capacity of around 4,500 Guests.
In addition to Iberocruceros, the Costa Group also comprises the Italian brand Costa Cruises – the number one cruise company in Europe with 14 ships in service and three on order – and Aida Cruises, the number one cruise company for the German market with six ships in service and three on order.