Wartsila Rescue

Masa-Yards is the name of a new company that has been established to continue the shipbuilding operations of Wartsila Marine. Its major shareholders are Carnival Cruise Lines with an 11 percent stake; Johnson Line, 10.5 percent; Effoa, 10.5 percent; Rederi Ab Slite, 11 percent; and Birka Line, 11 percent. All three have ships under construction at the beleaguered shipbuilder. Other shareholders include the Union Bank of Finland and the Finnish government.

Negotiations are said to be underway on new contract prices and delivery dates.

The head of the new company is Martin Saarikangas who has been an executive with Wartsila Marine for more than 30 years.

"Not in the Shipbuilding Business"

Sources close to the company noted that Carnival is not in the shipbuilding business and suggested that the company's involvement in Masa might be of a short-term nature to secure the completion of the two ships that already are under construction. A spokesperson said that the third ship may be built by the Masa, but that it also may be built somewhere else.

At press time there was no dollar figure available for Carnival's investment in Masa-Yards. The spokesperson said that there was an as of yet undetermined cost increase in the completion of the two ships but that this would not have a significant impact on Carnival's operations.

Carnival now expects to take delivery of the Fantasy in January for cruise service to begin in March, while the introduction of the Ecstasy has been postponed from late fall 1990 to winter/spring of 1991. Construction of the third vessel has not yet begun.

According to reports from Finland, the new company has received funds of about $135 million to continue operations. The new owners will also have to absorb about $400 million in expected Wartsila losses.

Uncertain Future

While several Finnish officials have referred to the rescue of Wartsila as temporary measures, Saarikangas has said that the new company's objective is to become a major force in international shipbuilding. Much of the company's future, however, seems to hinge on whether the Finnish government will subsidize its shipbuilding industry. So far it has refused to do that.

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