Royal Caribbean Cruises and Madrid-based private equity firm Springwater Capital today announced an agreement to form a joint venture which will see Royal selling a 51 percent stake in Pullmantur and CDF to Springwater, which purchased Pullmantur's tour assets in 2014.
Pullmantur has been regarded as a distraction to Royal Caribbean leadership. The press release said the move was "dedicated to bringing culturally authentic, best-in-class cruise experiences tailored to Spanish and French tourists through the management of the Pullmantur and Croisières de France cruise brands."
Neither Royal Caribbean or Springwater responded to questions from Cruise Industry News last week.
As part of the terms of the agreement, RCL will sell a 51 percent stake in Pullmantur and CDF to Springwater.
RCL will have a 49 percent stake, and retain full ownership of the ships and planes currently operated by Pullmantur and CDF, which will be leased into the joint venture. RCL will also provide marine operations services to Pullmantur and CDF through a management agreement.
This joint venture expands on the successful, pre-existing partnership between RCL and Springwater for the Wamos air transport, travel agency, and tour operation businesses. This investment also expands Springwater's existing tourism portfolio, which includes airline and travel agency investments in Spain, France and Portugal.
"Pullmantur and CDF have a long history of offering authentic, localized cruise vacations to their home markets," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean. "We look forward to the new focus that this joint venture with Springwater will bring to these companies as they seek to grow."
Fain added: "Given the signs of recovery we have seen in the Spanish economy, as well as increased interest in cruising from tourists in France, we think this is the right time to bring together the extensive experience of our deeply valued employees at Pullmantur and CDF with the local travel and tourism expertise of the Springwater team. Springwater's local management presence in Madrid, coupled with RCL's long-standing history in cruise operations, will provide the foundation for improved returns in the future."
Martin Gruschka, Chief Executive Officer of Springwater, added: "We are delighted to announce the joint venture with Royal Caribbean, and look forward to working with Pullmantur and CDF employees. The transaction leverages our firm's travel sector expertise, and will take advantage of Pullmantur and CDF's strong client and travel industry relationships in the Spanish and French markets. These relationships – paired with Royal Caribbean's cruise management – will create the foundation for a successful, long-term strategic partnership."
The joint venture is expected to be completed later this year, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. It is expected to result in an immaterial one-time gain, which will be excluded from RCL's key metrics. Given the markets in which Pullmantur operates, the transaction is expected to have partially offsetting impacts on yields and expenses. The amount of these impacts will depend on when regulatory approvals are received and the transaction closes, but the net effect on the company's 2016 bottom line is expected to be neutral to marginally positive.