Carnival Corp., the world's biggest cruise operator, will buy the remaining half of Italian cruise operator Costa Crociere which
it does not already own from British travel company Airtours Plc
. Carnival said it expected to pay about $525 million in cash for Airtours' stake in Costa, which is headquartered in Genoa. Carnival would own all of Costa and keep a 26 percent "strategic interest" in Airtours, which it acquired in 1996. "The purchase of Airtours' 50 percent interest in Costa is a very important strategic move in the continued development of Carnival Corpo
ration's European business," Micky Arison, Carnival chairman and CEO, said. "Costa is the largest and most successful cruise operator in Europe and will serve as Carnival's primary platform for expanding our presence in this increasingly important market," he added.
Based on Costa's projected 2000 earnings, the transaction was not expected to dilute Carnival's earnings per share.