Louis Cruise Lines' bid to acquire majority control of Royal Olympic Cruises (ROC) has been accepted. The deal involves cash and Louis shares in return for all of the Keusseoglou family's interest in ROC Holdings, plus a smaller percentage of the Potamianos family's stake in ROC Holdings.
Overall, ROC is 51.4 percent controlled by ROC Holdings, and 48.6 percent publicly traded on the NASDAQ. Previously, the Keusseoglou and Potamianos families had 50/50 control of ROC Holdings. The takeover of the Keusseoglou interest and some of the Potamianos interest gives Louis Cruise Lines control of ROC Holdings, and by extension, Royal Olympic Cruises overall. However, Andreas Potamianos will continue to be significantly involved in the operation of ROC.
Currently, ROC has one newbuild, the Olympic Voyager, scheduled for delivery in June 2000 from German yard Blohm+Voss, and a second, the Olympic Explorer, due in April 2001. Louis must decide upon an ROC option for a third ship by the end of the year. In its filing with the Cyprus stock exchange, Louis affirmed its commitment to ROC's first two newbuildings.
Overall, there was a generally positive response to the ROC-Louis merger. Louis has a great deal of experience operating and chartering older tonnage; they have cash reserves from their recent stock offering on the Cyprus exchange; ROC needs cash and needs a partner; Louis has hotel and tour companies which could synergize with the ROC ships; and finally, many onlookers believed ROC's central problem was not losses attributed to the Kosovo conflict but rather, a management structure stymied by friction between the Keusseoglou and Potamianos families - and the Louis deal would seem to bring the management issue to a close.